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Effective Leadership

Leadership is an independent skill and a necessity that is inevitable in practically every sphere. Effective leadership is what establishes autonomy and self-reliance in any sector. When leadership is applied on one’s own thoughts, it becomes self-supporting, and when it is practiced in a team, it becomes wholesome! A system without a leader is like a library without order, where books lie haphazard. Leadership helps tap maximum potential from every division, and direct it towards productivity and work efficiency. What are the qualities of an effective leadership then? Let’s find out more.

Minefield

Well, join me as I discuss a simple but popular game today. The game is called ‘minefield’:

Each team comprises of two members. While one player in a team is blindfolded, the other is allowed to see. A few chairs are used to create an obstacle course leading to a treasure mine. The player who is blindfolded begins from the start point and is supposed to reach the minefield within a fixed time limit. The other player in the team must communicate the directions clearly and quickly to help him/her succeed in the treasure-hunt.

Games are an interesting way to sharpen one’s skills in communication, team work, trust building, leadership, and in a handful other traits. Games present practical encounters and what’s more they are refreshing!

A leader leads by example, and perhaps this is how the phrase ‘follow the leader’, originated. A true leader knows when he should lead the way from the forefront, and when he should quickly shift to directing the team from the rear! Getting credit for leadership is never the aim of an effective leader, rather it is a by-product in the course of the leader’s actual goal of realising team achievement.

Effective leadership cares about their people as much as about results.

10 Qualities that distinguish effective leadership from an average one.

Values and Ethics

Values and ethics occupy the top slot while exercising any leadership. When a leader sticks to ethics and then plans execution of tasks, the team members display trust and credence. In fact, values are what differentiate a ‘dictator’ from a ‘true leader’.

A dictator would want to push the team towards reaching his/her personal goals, by not being sensitive to the consequences it will eventually bear on the welfare of the team or masses in general.

A true leader on the other hand, marches ahead along with the team to allow for both individual growth and growth of the team as a whole, while never neglecting its impact on society.

Dictatorship creates unrest in a team, an effective leadership holds the team together.

Humility and Conviction

Humility and conviction are hard-to-attain combination of qualities. Often if there is one, the other lacks. How can both be practiced together? This is possible by evolving an agile mindset that welcomes new opinions while respecting one’s own.

Humility comes with the realisation that leadership is not about knowing everything. It is about acknowledging and putting together everything that the other members know and making meaning out of it like in a jigsaw puzzle! This understanding makes a leader embrace and validate all viewpoints to help achieve sensible outcomes.

Conviction comes with self belief and also confidence in one’s own abilities. It can be achieved by being in the habit of continuous learning. Conviction makes a leader convince his team to take up bold decisions to achieve the unexplored.

Vision

An effective leader should have a perfect bird’s eye view of future possibilities. Being a true visionary, a leader should virtually view future prospective beyond horizon. It is not enough to just harbor a perfect insight. The three ‘I’ s are an essential must-have:

Imagination: In other words, it is called thinking out of the box. Imagination is driven by creativity and in turn drives innovation.

Inspiration: Once an idea is conceived, it needs to be articulated clearly to the members. Articulation should to be carefully done with the help of ‘influence’ rather than with ‘forceful authority’.

Inventiveness: Imagination and inspiration now channelize inventiveness. Inventiveness is getting ideas implemented in line with the prior planned objective.

Effective Communication

Effective communication skill is a medium that showcases all leadership qualities. Starting with body language and gestures. It also includes expertise in language, accent, speed of speech, tone, and voice modulations, among others. Communication brings to light one’s own self-esteem, mindset, confidence, vision, or humbleness.

Communication empowers a leader to:

  • Motivate the team by making contents of discussion meaningful and thinking on the lines of a win-win strategy.
  • Practice routine coaching and mentoring.
  • Exercise conflict management.

Intellectual Drive and Delegation of Tasks

A leader needs to overcome his/her desire to be in control of every little task and Need to understand delegation in management. The leader’s intellectual drive can instead now be applied in strategic planning and studying in detail about prevailing competition outside of the company.

Delegating tasks enables to gather new ideas from others and to create more room for focusing on performance assessment by way of formal reviewing, tracking, and presenting regular feedbacks.

Passion and Creativity

Passion is not about achieving outcomes rather it means holding onto one’s vision. When you do not lose track of your insight, creativity gains colour and you are ready to take risks to tread the unique path. When the leader gives this liberty to the team as well, every outcome becomes novel!

Even if an entrepreneur leader fails in the first outcome, the chance of succeeding in the second attempt increases by 20 %, and by 30% in the next attempt and so on, as the odds that hinder success remain nearly the same and with experience, these odds may be avoided in the subsequent attempts.

– A Research from Harvard

Resilience and Moving Out of Comfort Zone

Resilient leaders anticipate setbacks and know very well how much of them are inevitable. They know perfectly well how to cope under pressure situation and still remain rock solid, when it comes to keeping the performance level of the team stable.

Discussing setbacks among team members should not be considered a taboo. In fact, open discussions make all members feel responsible during difficult times. Novel proposals can anytime transform turbulence to revolution. Effective leadership ensures to improve upon self and team’s resilience skills.

The opposite of being in the comfort zone it to explore! To explore, a leader has to be a bold risk-taker. This means to do good amount of detailed research and move ahead with what seems reasonably right. Effective leadership knows how to get out of comfort zone. Below quote explains it all:

I don’t believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and make them right

– Sir Ratan Tata

Interpersonal and Business Skills

Communication and collaboration in a leadership rest on interpersonal skills. In a business, these skills apply not only within a company, but also with vendors and clients, and with customers as well. Mastering interpersonal and business skills requires the right mix of qualities that include diplomacy, patience, understanding cultural sensitivity, and in general an attitude of respect for all. So, it is not enough to excel in technical aspects alone without being proficient in:

  • Counselling and constructive criticism
  • Empathetic listening and problem solving
  • Having an unbiased outlook and providing equal opportunities
  • Negotiation tactics
  • Amicable conflict resolution skills
  • Attending to customer care/service through feedback review

Empowering Others and Recognising Success

Great leaders, welcome apt involvement from other members and empower them with autonomy and authority whenever the leader’s own responsibility permits him/her to do so.

  • With authority, the employees find zeal and enthusiasm in meeting the challenge, expectation, and deadlines.
  • Autonomy encourages them to take bold steps and try out innovative approaches.

Once empowered, the success of the team members needs to be rightfully recognized and celebrated. However small the achievement, a small applause can go miles do wonders rather than just take them for granted. A good leader understands that apart from working for a living, it is in human nature to work for passion and get appreciated.

Planning and Organising skills

Leadership in different fields highlights different aspects of dominance. Leadership may highlight honesty in a game, in business: productivity, in sports: coaching/mentoring, in military: strategic planning and grit, in science and technology: organization and innovation, and so on.

Did you know that with every successful leader emerges a unique leadership style? Leaders have their own planning methodologies and way of organising ideas.

Effective leadership styles

Let’s quickly glance on some well-known leadership styles because choosing a particular type or a combination of them, depends on the field where leadership is being applied.

Participative Style

Also popularly known as the democratic style of leadership, this style involves all members equally in decision-making. While the advantage is in all team members having a healthy morale, and creative solutions, the disadvantages could be in facing more conflicts. This style works best in creative fields like advertising agencies, fashion or interior designing etc.

Transactional Leadership

This style is a structured and more conventional type of leadership, where the leader values a fixed set of rules and regulations with a degree of authority. As the name indicates, there is a kind of give and take transaction between the leaders and employees. This type of leadership is more a success during crises such as in a military set-up, or in an emergency demand for medicine manufacture and drug approval through clinical trials, etc.

Transformational Leadership

In this type of leadership, the leader is more of an influential mentor to the members than an authoritative manager. The motto is to win employee force through stimulation, motivation, and consideration.

Transformational leadership supports agile mindset. In other words, in this type of a system, every employee in due course, transforms into a leader!

Affiliative Leadership

The underlined feature of this type of leadership is to keep employees happy and to create a harmonious functioning of work. Building trust and understanding within a team is given more stress than on target outcomes. This leadership works best during crises, for instance in a team of space research workers working in space stations, or a team of medical fraternity working continuously in treating patients during any pandemic like the COVID crisis.

Laissez-Faire Style

‘Laissez-Faire’, is a French term that translates to ‘leave alone’. This type of leadership believes in handing over responsibility to employees altogether. The leaders just give their viewpoints to the team and completely leave it to employees to take charge of every decision-making. The employees become the leads. It also refers to economy in a nation, driven private businesses without much government control.

Sometimes, the employees may feel unsupported as the leaders may be uninvolved. Newcomers may find it overwhelming and may feel it to be a system without plan and structure. This style suits best for self motivated individuals who yearn for a freedom for implementing their ideas.

It is a good practice to read about great leaders as it exposes us to a practical understanding of how leadership styles are applied in reality.

While Sundar Pichai the CEO of Google practices a combination of transformational and affiliative leadership styles.

Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon and Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, stress on a combination of transactional and transformational leadership.

Steve Jobs of Apple fame, on the other hand believed in Laissez-Faire style.

Conclusion

Being an heir to a renowned company or being born in a family of famous industrialists is not qualification enough to make a person become a leader. Leadership does not come by position; it comes by intent observation and practice. Leadership is not about exploiting human resource, but tapping the employee potential.

Again, effective leadership is not just about being a perfect orator and making impactful speeches. Sometimes communication can also mean talking without speaking! Interpersonal skills hold dominance in any leadership, as it is the ‘people’s skill’.

A true leader can even be comfortable behind the scenes. According to philosopher Lao Tzu, an effective leader can silently mediate and watch the work being accomplished and be happy to hear the team shout, “We did it ourselves!”

Recommended books for Effective leadership

Article Credit

This article is contributed by Ms Preeti Tambraparni, post graduate in microbiology with a certification in clinical research. Her expertise are writing personal blog in life science related topics and health blog.

More articles from Ms. Preeti Tambraparni:

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