Why is it that some leaders can inspire people to follow their vision while other leaders who are just as smart cannot get the same results? Is it because we follow those we want to, not because we have to?!
The challenge. In today’s challenging, resource strapped, multidimensional Covid struck environment, a critical concern that plagues most leaders is how to accomplish more with limited resources. The most obvious answer – by increasing employee effectiveness and productivity – may not be as elusive as we think.
Take the case of the Wright Brothers, distinguished from other inventors who were smarter, richer and the first to take flight. Or Dr. Martin Luther King who possessed something that distinguished him from other great civil rights leaders and made him the voice of his age. Even the late Steve Jobs – a business visionary who successfully brought innovative products to the market where his competitors had previously failed to do so.
There is no dearth of blogs, authors and advice (including this one) addressing the topic of effective leadership in business, often making the same points through different examples and stories! In Twitter alone, the volume of leadership tweets and retweets tell us there is an active search for effective leaders. One wonders whether there is so much continuing communication about this common topic because effective leadership may be uncommon!!
A lot is demanded of our leaders today – intellectual capacity to simplify unfathomably complex issues, imaginatively paint a vision of an enthusiastic future, operational know-how to translate strategy into concrete plans, and the interpersonal skills to generate commitment from sometimes disengaged employees. In addition to command and control, the leader’s job will be inextricably linked to cultivating and motivating the actions of others at all levels in the organization.
Engage employees. It makes sense that motivated employees who respect the leadership style of their supervisors often give better service to customers. Likewise, research has shown that ineffective managers damage employee engagement. Fortunately, the remedy for poor employee engagement is linked strongly to well honed interpersonal skills!
As Dr Daniel Goleman aptly pointed out ‘Social intelligence’ emerges as the make-or-break leadership skill set, because ‘leadership is the art of accomplishing goals through other people. Technical skills and self-mastery alone make an outstanding individual contributor. But to lead, one needs an additional interpersonal skill set: you’ve got to listen, communicate, persuade, collaborate..’
With extreme pressure on physical and mental health, leaders need to tap into their own emotional intelligence to make sure their teams come out of the pandemic stronger.
Our futures are more than ever bound to those of other people, both the neighbor next door and the business colleagues! Despite the fast pace of living, huge quantities of information available and the demanding business dynamics – the measure of our success depends, as it always has, on our dealings with the people beside whom we walk on the fast track and whom we engage in information exchange. Time devoted to bonding with others, communicating with trust and empathy, leading wisely, and truly valuing others is indeed time well spent.