Six Key Themes of Effective Leadership

The topic of leadership is studied and written about from every angle – and rightly so.  Leadership is the critical art of fostering positive support and action from people to realize an objective – achieve a vision.

We love and revere our effective leaders but don’t always fully understand how they do it.  Why are some more successful than others?  The fact is leadership can be learned, practiced, and refined, and must be as people grow into positions and opportunities that will expect and require leadership driven results.

Here are six key themes of leadership perspective and performance that can add strength and depth to anyone seeking to be more effective:

  1. Recognize that everyone is – or can be – a leader.  You have the opportunity to lead by example, by performance, by your presence every day.  You can influence progress from any level of an organization.  We must develop our people to lead as a natural course of organizational growth.
  2. Recognize that everyone is a follower – we all work for someone.  Skilled and mature followers become, or are, skilled leaders as well.  Leadership and followership are two sides of the same performance coin.  We must reward and refine skilled followership as it strengthens organizations and may eventually translate into leadership.
  3. Be a constant learner – expand your skills.  Effective leaders recognize that they cannot be all-knowing.  They seek the information they need and draw on the talents of their people through inclusive engagement.  Humility is a powerful force that allows you to grow.  Reserve the right to be smarter tomorrow – then be so.
  4. Focus on people – leaders make a difference in people’s lives.  Effective leaders know that they matter because of their people.  You may be in a leadership position but you have to gain trust and support to effectively lead.  An axiom to remember: You are not leading if no one is following.
  5. Practice receptive leadership – “listen-consider-engage”.  This approach will help you avoid the curse of “fire-aim-ready”, a bad sequence every time.  Your professional generosity is measured by the recipient, not you.  Take the time to understand what your people need from your time and energy.
  6. Be self-assessing – take time to reflect.  Work to know what is working and what is not.  We are best when we are open to improvement – re-focus daily and acknowledge that you might do things differently next time.  Possess a passion for your action – re-commit every day.

While some people may have skills and traits that are commonly associated with leaders, virtually everyone can improve their leadership capacity with considered effort.  This capacity can then be drawn on in any circumstance by anyone at any level in an organization or communityto be more effective.

Steve Wischmann

President/CEO

Horizon Performance Solutions, LLC

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