“Conscious leaders don’t tolerate conditions or processes where people feel the need to compromise their values — to ‘sell their souls’ for the task at hand. Conscious leadership includes conscious discernment, a principle that demands performance, integrity, competence and a non-calloused form of spiritual toughness. The conscious leader does not sit with his or her head in the clouds, dreaming of utopian schemes and professing New Age idealism. The conscious leader walks in the spiritual and physical domains concurrently, remaining simultaneously grounded and comfortable in both.” John Renesch, futurist
A leader needs to know how to lead a team effectively towards realising the vision and to be able to communicate the vision to them. A leader needs to make good decisions for the team. This may include making sacrifices for the overall good of the team, to put themselves second and the team first.
There is so much information on varying leadership styles, so defining your own style into one of these categories should therefore be easy? I think not. It is extremely difficult to categorise a leader’s style into a specific category or designated style, as everyone is unique, and different situations often demand a different kind of leadership. It is useful before analysing and improving your own leadership style, to look at the theory behind it. I firmly believe that all individuals should take the time to discover their own unique styles of leadership that aligns with their personality, develop and refine it, and then use it to their best advantage.
A leadership style refers to the typical behaviour of a leader. It is the effect of the values, beliefs, personality, history and experience of that person. Many people believe that leadership requires strong personality with a well-tuned and positive ego, with self-confidence and high self-esteem. These qualities are helpful, but not essential – so note that those with slightly weaker personalities or out-of-control egos sometimes also manage to orchestrate themselves into positions of leadership! Of course leadership is one thing, effective leadership another.
Authentic leadership is leading by example. It is when a leader exhibits the desire to make a contribution to others, and helps others learn new skills. Accountable leadership is displayed by a steady leader who makes every effort to be hands-on.
I favour and advocate asset-based leadership. My personal philosophy is that everyone’s leadership should be asset-based; which means making the most of what you have to influence those around you. The most effective leaders are those who invest in strengths – their own and those of others. Effective leaders surround themselves with the right team, and endeavour to understand their followers’ needs. If they do not know their assets and liabilities they cannot put the right people in place – those who have complementary attributes and skills.
It is your personality that makes you distinctive. Your assets (strengths) make you valuable. Any business worth its bottom dollar knows what the bottom line is. It has a balance sheet. Any ambitious individual or leader needs to produce the same document – his very own balance sheet. This should reflect his assets, liabilities (flaws or weaknesses), perceptions (how people see him), potential (his future prospects) and loans (what he needs to borrow so that he can fill his gaps). I believe that this is the foundation of every personal plan.
Achieving leadership is not always a conscious decision, and that may be why some leaders fall down on the basics. If they have not been shown how to lay a foundation, then they often slip up on simple tasks like chairing a meeting, speaking in public, delegating or appointing the right team. A leader is as strong as the weakest link in his chain of command. The practical chapters will give guidance on these basics.
Published October 2013