How do you get someone to follow you? Successful leaders have found that it isn’t position power that matters most in the employee/supervisory relationship. Personal power is the real key. Leaders take people to where they want to go. Great leaders take people to where they ought to be. That’s the essence of superstar leaders’ presence and the characteristics they possess.
Leadership through position power involves these strategies:
- Dictatorial approach
- Employees are subordinate
- “Do as I say!”
- Fear strategies
- The leader has all the answers
Leadership through personal power includes these strategies:
- Engagement approach
- Employees are partners
- “Do as I do also!”
- Influencing strategies
- The team has the answers, too
This is an exiting time to be a leader. Never before has there been so statistical evidence linked to leadership effectiveness. True leadership effectiveness has more to do with who you are and less to do with your job title.
What are the characteristics of leadership?
Research by management guru’s Kouzes and Posner, found four crucial leadership characteristics from an exhaustive list of over 225 different values, traits and characteristics. Their methodology included a questionnaire and case studies. The following open- ended question summarized the views of over 20,000 managers from four continents: What values (personal traits or characteristics) do you look for and admire in your superiors?
What they found is that people want to follow leaders who are honest, forward-looking, inspiring and competent. Below is my definition of each of these characteristics.
Being Honest: Tell the truth and do what you say you will do. Considering all of the celebrity type leaders across industries with ethical problems that have “bit the dust”, this is not surprising and even more crucial today. Honesty, integrity, and ethics are in great demand today! More and more companies have created ethical statements as guidelines for behavior in the business. Doing business the right way is becoming more crucial than being the best. After all, if you are dishonest, it affects the trust you have in your relationships with employees and customers like, and it erodes the foundation of your inner conscience. It’s been stated, “To thine own self be true.” If you aren’t, how can you be with others or really achieve success as a leader?
In his book, Principled Centered Leadership, Steven Covey defines integrity as: “Honestly matching words and feelings with thoughts and actions, with no desire other than for the good of others, without malice or desire to deceive, take advantage, manipulate, or control’ constantly reviewing your intent as you strive for congruence.” How do you know if you are acting with integrity? Here are some indicators:
- You keep you word
- You follow-up on your commitments
- Your behavior and values match
- In spite of your mood you treat people respectfully
- You don’t need to drop names, situations, or events in conversations to impress people
- You strive to do the right thing not the expedient thing
- When under temptation to bend the rules you stay honorable to the company’s values and what’s right
- You treat all people with respect and dignity
- Poor taste in humor is not part of you vocabulary
- Cynicism and sarcasm is are not useful to you
- You are a good listener even if others view are different from your own
Being Forward Looking: have a vision for the future and clearly communicate it. Yes, focus on the short-term but have a plan for tomorrow. Leaders need to hold both of these simultaneously in their hands.
Being Inspiring: have some passion and enthusiasm for what you do, its contagious. If you can’t get genuinely excited about what you are doing it’s almost impossible to get others to be.
Being Competent: be a student of the game and keep learning about your business and how to deal with people.
Success as leader is never assured. However, if you are a “student of the game”, keep learning from the best, and emulate them, you will increase your effectiveness over time.
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