If asked to name a leader we might think of a captain of industry or a major political figure, a Richard Branson or a Barack Obama. But you don’t have to be responsible for a multinational company or president of a nation to be a leader – leadership also occurs on a much smaller scale. For me, a key part of leadership is the ability to influence and motivate using attitudes and behaviour – leadership doesn’t rely on the use of power and the authority inherent in a high position, nor does it result just from the ability to reward.
Leaders lead by way of personality, attitude and behaviour. A good leader needs to have a clear vision of the future, be confident in their own abilities, have a ‘can do’ attitude, and be a good communicator and motivator – they also need courage and perseverance. So, I would argue that even a junior manager is a leader of sorts – they are a role model for their team, they lead by example, they need communication skills, and the ability to influence, motivate and encourage.
There are lots of models or theories of leadership. I’m a fan of the Transformational Leadership model because it describes a set of leadership characteristics and competences that apply to leadership at all levels. There are four core attributes of a Transformational Leader, they can be summarized thus:
Charisma. The qualities and behaviors that enable a leader to act as a positive role for their team – these leaders display conviction, adherence to a set of values, are ‘true to themselves’, and behave in a consistent manner.
Inspiration. The qualities that enable a leader to articulate future goals with clarity and optimism – these leaders inspire and motivate their team.
Intellectual stimulation. The qualities that enable a leader to be both willing and able to challenge assumptions, and strive for higher levels of achievement – these leaders encourage their team to do likewise and to create a culture of creativity and constant improvement.
Individual attention. The qualities that enable a leader to be aware of the needs of individual team members – these leaders mentor and coach, and give positive feedback.
The first two of these attributes are about leading from the front, the second two are to do with enabling improvement and higher levels of achievement – I think of them as leading from the front and tuning the engine.
The above is the briefest of summaries, if you want to know more about Transformational Leadership (and other leadership theories), Peter G. Northouse’s Leadership gives a good overview.
I offer a ‘How to be a great leader’ workshop that draws on the Transformational Leadership model. This works well for groups of middle and/or senior managers. If you are interested, you can find more information at here – or call or email me.
I’ve also added a leadership element to my ‘How to be a great manager’ workshop. It’s a workshop for new managers or those with no previous management training. If you are interested, you can find more information at here – or call or email me.