The quality of leadership within the organization is critical from a business perspective. Yet, according to Gallup’s research, the majority of leaders are not equipped to take on the leadership roles. This status quo hurts not only employees but also decrease the performance of the organizations. Much could be achieved by providing relevant training and development opportunities to the managers and leaders. Many companies though do not invest in leaders’ training and poor management comes at the expense of U.S. economy, costing $398 billion annually.
As much as it is pretty easy to define the qualitative characteristics of great leaders, they do not provide the insight on what behaviors make the most of the business impact. Any future or current manager should drive the development of their core leadership competencies and behaviors as a part of the individual development objectives. From an organizational perspective, the past and present actions remain the best way to assess the probability of successes of the future leaders and the business. So what are those distinctive characteristics of effective leaders?
- Strategic & Innovative Thinking
The desired characteristic of the innovative leader is fresh, insightful thinking with an adaptation of creative approaches to processes, practices, products, solutions, services, business models & strategies.
Strategic & Innovative Thinking should translate to the following behaviors:
-working independently for extended periods of time with minimal support and supervision
-taking relevant actions to improve the company’s products and services
-challenging the status quo with thinking outside of the box and providing new methodologies and unique solutions to the problems
-seizing opportunities by taking the initiative and ownership for success
-anticipating the potential obstacles and taking action to remove them
– changing directions quickly to take advantage of new opportunities when they come up
-showing engagement and loyalty to company business goals by continued learning and self-improvement
-stimulating new ways of thinking, by keeping their skills and knowledge current -managing the risks by assessing what can go wrong & assess opportunities, initiate reasonable action when potentially negative consequences are expected
-being assertive, independent, curious
- Insight, Influence & Inclusion
The insightful leaders understand other peoples’ unspoken, as well as explicit concerns. They adapt their own behavior and approach to be more efficient, inclusive and to have a positive impact on others.
Insight, Influence & Inclusion should translate to the following behaviors:
-ability to notice other person feelings, concerns and recognizing non-verbal dynamic of the individual/ group and understanding different perspective and viewpoints
-being inclusive and leveraging the point of view of multiple team members during discussions and decision processes
3. Self Awareness
The leader should be capable of recognizing their strengths, limitations, and personal motivations and assess their impact on others. Good leaders act with authenticity and ego maturity, actively seeking the performance feedback.
Self-Awareness should translate to the following behaviors:
-serving as a positive and healthy example for the team and employees
-recognition of the need for self-development and improvement
-using own strengths to help others to achieve their business objectives and goals
- Anticipation of the Customer and Market Needs
Leaders are expected to have the skills to gain the deep understanding of customers and stakeholders needs. Relationship leaders build connections between the organization and the outside world. They develop positive, collaborative partnerships that drive sustainable business results.
The anticipation of the Customer and Market Needs should translate to the following behaviors:
-developing and strengthening of relationship inside and outside of the organizations by maintaining large internal networks across their company. More extensive networks are correlated with the positive business outcomes and increased personnel’s engagement
-analyzing the stakeholder’s needs to achieve their full understanding
-being supportive to stakeholders by promptly addressing the relevant business problems and concerns
-exposing the customer-centric employees to strategic projects that touch the customer experience
- Ability to Build Change-Agile Organizations
It is an essential task of every leader to develop individuals, teams & organizations that are skilled at initiating & responding to change. Agile leaders create change-agile organizations by designing & leading organizations that are flexible and adaptive. To support sustainable change within the organization, they should have the skillset and expertise to align the relevant organizational structures and processes.
Ability to Build Change-Agile Organizations should translate to the following behaviors:
-taking a pro-active approach to smooth the process of change for others
-putting proper systems in place for rewards and recognition of employees
-taking actions to allow the organization to remain agile or flexible during the change
- Acting Decisively
The decisive leader is working with urgency and makes effective decisions by applying business and financial acumen, removal of barriers that hinder productivity.
Acting Decisively should translate to the following behaviors:
-being proactive and leading with confidence and authority, considering the alternative solutions, identifying and confront risks
-taking responsibility for difficult decisions
-engaging the audience attention in high-stakes meetings and discussions, facing conflicts and embracing differences in opinions
– being assertive and sharing the view, but not to force it, looking for win-win solutions
– recognizing and appreciating leadership qualities in others
- Seizing Accountability & Holding People Accountable
A responsible leader takes personal accountability for outcomes. Deals well with increasing levels of responsibility and takes actions to move the business forward, even when decisions and direction are ambiguous.
Accountability should translate to the following behaviors:
-taking charge and start rolling a ball to get the job done
-correcting small problems before they grow big
-identifying and solving the issues
-setting the bar high for performance outcomes and holding others accountable for their commitments
-acting when projects do not progress according to expectations
-implementing standards of excellence and ensuring that teams are working in a manner consistent with those standards
-serving as a strong example to the teams and other leaders; people are more engaged if they work for a manager who is working at least as much as they are
-in the case of identifying the source of the potential employee sluggishness:
- approaches the problem with the assumption of positive intent and focusing on the practical solutions to the performance problem
- sets clear, specific expectations by giving the employee the guidance on where you want him/her to emphasize their time, and also how long something should take, even if it feels at first like micromanaging
- eliminates the roadblocks and hurdles for the employees
- divides large assignments into smaller ones for slower employees for a greater sense of urgency, so the task is completed promptly
- offers projects and tasks employee enjoy doing; happy workers are faster workers!
- Ability to Grow Leaders
People-oriented leaders coach and develop superior talent and teams by providing opportunities and experiences to develop skills, competencies and business knowledge.
Ability to Grow Leaders should translate to the following behaviors:
-having regular development discussions and providing regular feedback (positive and negative) to employees; employees who get little to no one-on-one time with their manager were more likely to be disengaged
-empowering the personnel to make independent business decisions
-identifies and eliminates the negative people behaviors outlined as below:
- Saying one thing – doing another
- Slow or no ability to adapt or grow
- Leaving behind weak or mediocre teams
- Excessive ego and self-interest
- Lack of courage to take risks
- Overly controlling & micromanaging
- Maintaining a Strategic Business Perspective
Leaders committed to organization’s business invests in the success of the whole by aligning across boundaries. They recognize that what is “best” for the own division, function or department may have to be amended and brought into line with what’s best for the organization overall.
Commitment to Maintaining a Strategic Business Perspective should translate to the following behaviors:
-promoting collaborations and cooperation within a company through deep understand the business, the marketplace, and the customer
-identifying strategic opportunities or threats for the business
-supporting strategic business decisions, even if they are not optimal for his department
– co-operating cross-functionally with a focus on achieving the common goal
-actively participating in community, industry and leadership organizations to understand the external environment
-articulating convincing approaches to moving their business forward
Poor management is costly for the business and decreases the satisfaction and life quality of the employees, leading to reduced productivity. The most successful companies are those with the best-in-class leaders. Above article describes some qualitative characteristics and appropriate actionable behaviors of the effective leaders. Further self-development and implementation of those actions can demonstrate the level of leaders’ engagement and also strengthen the probability of the future organization success.