I come across several aspiring leaders who have questions such as:
“I have a great relationship with eight out of ten people on my team. Am I a good people manager?”
“I am good at all I do in my role, but I don’t follow any framework, models or theories. Will I still be considered to be a good leader?”
“I am doing well and am eager to contribute to the next level, however I don’t know if I am ready to take on that promotion?”
“If I say this, people will think I am …”
Senior executives do not express these doubts and thoughts easily. They surface after trying to get to the bottom of things holding them back from their goals. They are voiced during leadership development sessions, while trying to navigate the choppy waters of their day to day jobs where they are required to show up more and more as leaders. More power to these folks and their companies that want them to understand what leadership is really all about and where they stand in this journey. While many are thinking and feeling these thoughts but not really acknowledging and addressing them.
There are several leadership theories that have been documented from the last few decades of study and research in this area. Although most are in sync, some tend to contradict each other. While these frameworks help many understand leadership, it brings up doubts in people about their own style if it a little different from what they understand of the framework. There is an expectation amongst newer aspiring leaders that leadership shows up in a certain manner. The ironic thing is that a leadership style of a person is very unique to them. Leadership actually demands you to show up more and more and even more as yourself. However, this does not mean leadership depends on personality. I have seen great leaders with different strengths and attributes, while some are introverts others are extroverts, some are thrifty others spend lavishly, some drive results others collaborate. So what are those collective set of behaviours that most describes someone on a right leadership track?
Some things that stand true about leadership are:
- A strong belief in self: This does not mean always being right. It is knowing that you are unique and what is yours will come to you. Operating from no insecurity or doubt about your decisions, actions and approach.
- A strong sense of purpose: This enables leaders to have a personal vision and a vision to lead the organization. Purpose chooses to reveal itself to a person when they are ready. This readiness can come in several different ways, through hardships, through continuous searching or your time to receive it has just come. This further gives them the skills to be able to break the vision down to be understood by the next in line.
- Ability to be present: In the fast and furious race to high impact scale on people, resources and situations, the space to BE, allows leaders to do great things. They learn the ability to be here now.
- Strong domain expertise: This is a prerequisite and of course cannot be compromised as you take on even bigger charters.
- They are constant strategic learners: The skill of sifting through the necessary and relevant learning in your area will determine how effective you continue to be in your leadership role.
- They network without an agenda: Often, people attend networking events with an agenda. You absolutely have to be at the right events around relevant people, however when you are there, spend more time about genuinely being curious about people and connecting with them at a human level.
- They forgive and let go: Leaders take the lessons but don’t engage personally with it for too long. This means forgiving themselves and their own failures too. The failure could be being duped by other people or a situation gone awry or a bad decision. The important thing is to own it but not beat yourself over it, learn from it and then move on. This requires a practiced deliberate skill only a few can master, but it can be done.
- They believe they deserve it: If their vision and purpose is clear this comes naturally from a place of humility and not from ego. And then, how beautiful is that.
- They know they cannot do it alone: They mentor, groom and take care of their people. They build collaborative environments conducive to innovation.
- They take care of themselves: Leaders know that they need to be in top form to play the game well and inspire their team members to show up at the top of their game too.
- They have an appetite for risk: The strong self-belief enables this. It is a required quality for innovation.
- They are self-aware: They regularly scan themselves objectively to see what their own fears, blind spots, aspirations, apprehensions and pitfalls are.
Now with this knowledge, go back to those questions listed above. You will notice that if the above work is done by a person regularly they will have no hesitation in answering those questions. In-fact those questions will not surface for real leaders and if they do they will immediately know the answers to them.
The views expressed in this article are not those of Fortune India
The author is the founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners a global Leadership Development company based in Bangalore. She is a Leadership Development Specialist, an ICF Certified Executive Coach [PCC] and author of the book - Team Decision Making.