Identifying Leaders
February 8th, 2012 Posted by admin

Last month I interviewed a senior executive of a large Canadian food chain about leadership practices. I asked her “what is the number one leadership question that is unanswered or inadequately answered?” Without hesitating she responded “Identifying leaders! Knowing a leader’s DNA so it can be identified in individuals early in their career within the organization.”

The qualities of a leader and the most effective style of leadership are topics that extant literature still does not adequately answer. To be fair, there are recurring themes such as challenging the status quo, having a vision and being passionate about it, and caring for people.

Here are my thoughts on the core skills of a leader.

  1. Contextual – A leader has the ability to assess and understand the circumstances of the situation. What is the current situation and why are we in it? What is working and not working? Who are the key players and what’s their degree of influence?
  2. Visionary – A leader has a clear image of what the end looks like and is able to articulate this big picture simply and convincingly to the followers. A leader distinguishes what is from what should be, and focuses energy and attention on the future state.
  3. Passionate – A leader emits passion and energy for the vision. There is a deep longing to bring the vision to reality; a drive within a leader to do things differently. This passion attracts followers.
  4. Authentic – “Do as I say and as I do” – is the maxim of a leader. Words and actions are consistent with the vision. A leader is an example of the “right way”. That is not to say a leader is perfect. Rather, a leader models the values and behavior that is expected.
  5. Courageous – A leader understands that to achieve the vision, it may require taking unpopular decisions. While there may be fear, there is a greater amount of willpower to do what is right and necessary to achieve the vision. A leader exercises humility and strength of character in the face of attacks.

These are foundational skills for the leader to achieve great success.

To Your Unlimited Possibilities!

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