Leadership Essentials

By Lisa Anderson,

No matter the client, I’m continually reminded of the critical importance of leadership. If you have to choose between leadership skills and prior work experience / technical skills, undoubtedly, leadership skills must win the day. My clients with exceptional leaders outperform the rest – every time.

So, what could be more important than discussing leadership essentials? In my 20+ years of experience as an entrepreneur, business consultant and business executive (and thanks to my HR mentor), I’ve uncovered the top leadership essentials required for long-term success. 1) Integrity. 2) Vision. 3) Communication. 4) Performance management.

1. Integrity – It’s vital to start with integrity. Without integrity, none of the other essentials matter. A year or two ago, I did a survey of a dozen business executives on keys to success. I was surprised that every successful executive included integrity on the list. You don’t typically see this in popular business books or discussed at conferences yet it was one of the only essentials in common among the best leaders. Take note of the importance as there is no way to “train” or provide experiences to build integrity.

2. Vision – People follow those with vision. Enough said. How do you know if someone has vision? Do they seem to be confident about where they are headed? Do they share where the company is headed? Why it’s headed there? Do they seem passionate about it? If so, you’ve found a leader with vision.

3. Communication – If there is something in common across almost every client, it is the feedback of the lack of robust communication. Communication is bedrock to success. For example, if your team doesn’t know where they are headed, why they are headed there, how each person matters etc.; do you think they’ll be interested? I doubt it. Do you provide upfront communication? That’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. Do you make sure to ask for feedback? Do you continually clarify plans? Do you keep people in the loop? Communication alone can be a full-time job!

4. Performance management – Typically I try to limit my key points to three; however performance management cannot be forgotten. Assuming integrity is intact, those leaders who partner with employees to set goals, provide ongoing feedback, celebrate successes, track progress, and provide career planning advice will leapfrog those who don’t every time. The biggest roadblock I hear consistently is the lack of time. What could be more important? Make it a priority.

Not only will solid leaders never go out of style but they are also critical to achieving bottom line business results. Start by making leadership a priority. Without it, you might as well hang up your hat.

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2 Responses to Leadership Essentials

  1. Cibell January 9, 2013 at 2:07 am

    There seem to a few things to cover here Firstly, there is a whole caevnrsotion to be had about who is a leader and the fact that everyone needs to be a leader from time to time but unless this is a group with which I have worked on a number of sessions in the past, this is probably not the time to to deal with this. Instead, I would be more pragmatic and try to give short quick reasons why it is still important to talk about the leadership competencies.The most straightforward one for me is to explain that focusing on leadership competencies during the action learning session helps us to be be more effective as a group. By choosing to work on specific aspects of our behaviour during the discussion, we will improve our own individual performance which will have the net effect of helping us to work more effectively as a group. I would also stress that because we will all be listening for examples of how other group members are performing against their leadership competencies, it will improve our listening skills and help us to be more constructive and supportive of one another.If it feels like the term leadership competency’ is too loaded then I think you could re-position the term as being an interpersonal work competency’. Later on at the end of the session (or when the group next meets and after having had a chat with the sponsor) you could highlight the competencies and use the opportunity to ask questions that help the group understand how those competencies link to leadership and how leadership links to their role.

  2. Redbin January 12, 2013 at 1:20 am

    I agree with Matt and Carole the best language fit is itamropnt for the participants to take something from the session. If the title of leadership competencies is off putting to the participants (I have found this in some sessions I have taken) I would ask the group what would best describe these types of behaviours in your organisation . They may decide to call these attributes problem solving skills . It is down to the common language of the organisaiton and it is best prior to the session to talk to the sponsor about this to gain an understanding. If people feel uncomfortable or intimidated they are less likely to participate. I like to give participants a list of the competencies/skills to select from if they would like to do so at the beginning of the session. Making sure that the list also reflects their language is helpful. It’s all about getting them to take part so the can experience the benefits.At the beginning of the session it is itamropnt to explain to the participants that focusing on one of these skills during the session will help solidify the learning and that they will get a lot more out of the session. Most people will find themselves in leadership type situations everyday without even knowing this so it might be helpful to put the quesiton out to the group can any of you describe a time where you were in a leadership type of situation . This may help them to look beyond their current role at work.

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