Be the Leader you wish to follow
Ask a team member what they look for in their Leader and they will say someone that has vision and inspires me. Someone like Branson. Look at the research and listen to what people recruit on and more often than not, it is the technical and professional expertise of the Leader we celebrate. This anecdotal evidence was backed up by research conducted by Zenger Folkman – authors of Extraordinary Leader. They analyzed 360-degree feedback data on over 600 Leaders from ASX listed companies and of the 16 leadership competencies they measure, the cream of our corporates do indeed excel in their technical expertise. It was highlighted as the No.1 Leadership strength across the group of Australian leaders. Listed lower down the list at 14/16 was the ability to inspire and motivate others, yet, when they asked the direct reports of these Leaders what they most desire in their Leader, guess what was top of the wish list? Yes, you are right – the ability to inspire and motivate.
Strangely then, it seems the desire of the followers is diametrically opposed to what we award the big jobs on and indeed, where we invest in developing in our people.
It is also a key reason why a business strategy does not deliver the results the Leader expected. The team is not engaged, connected or believing in the strategy. Often, they also cannot determine their role in executing the company vision.
This is reinforced by a survey conducted by ‘Strategyand’ who asked over 500 senior executives to comment on the quality of their strategy and over 80% said they believed their strategy was not well understood within their Organisation.
That’s because inspirational Leaders communicate and engage the team in what the business wants to achieve. Inspirational Leaders find and entice talent to their business and truthfully, ensure they have the capability and desire within their team to deliver on the strategy.
Even then, creating the vision and strategy for a business is only the first part of the journey. A plan without execution is merely words on a page. Ability, accountability and momentum are critical. Without it, experience tells us the team is unlikely to hit the same levels of productivity. Think about your own experiences for a minute as either the generator of that vision or someone who has listened to a presentation of the plan. What prevented it from being as successful as desired?
Backing this up is information recruitment companies and Senior execs looking to move jobs gave us. They said the most common reason given for moving on is the poor quality of the manager or leader, not the actual company.
So, if a key missing link is the ability of our Leader to be visionary and inspire us, do you think we are missing something by not seemingly celebrating this capability more within corporate Australia? Are we in danger of underestimating and de-valuing the visionary attributes of Leaders that we so admire in people like Branson, Zuckerburg, Disney, Jobs and Buffet? If we could clone them, and replicate what they did to drive success, what would Leadership in corporate Australia look like? Leaving the last word with the Forbes article that highlights what these individuals that say, "A business leader must have the passion, strength of will, and necessary knowledge to achieve long-term goals. A focused individual who can inspire his team to reach organizational goals is a visionary business leader. Whenever a vision is followed by action, the vision can be turned into reality. One important action of leadership is the formation of a formidable team. No single skill set is sufficient in achieving success in business. A visionary leader recognizes talent and recruits individuals with skills that complement each other and contribute to business growth".
The question I want to ask is do you have the secret ingredient of exceptional leadership?
Nikki Hobin is a founding FlexCoach who for the past 12 years she has been a Coach, Consultant and Facilitator for clients across all industries. Her experience and accreditations are impressive but it’s her passion for seeing women excel in the workplace, her positive approach to life and her authenticity that really sets her apart. She is the author of two white papers and mum to the lovely Scarlet.
Connect with Nikki by viewing her profile.