Compassion, courtesy, respect, good manners, non-judgemental, tolerance, generosity, kindness, all the facets of culture demonstrated by a great leader.
I have recently been having a browse through the blog archive as well as other blogs, articles and so on to get an overall view of current opinion.
Rather to my surprise there appears to be an emphasis on the negative aspects of leadership with lots of thoughts as to how to correct adverse situations.
There are, of course, plenty of cogent reasons to go down this route. The negative aspects of attitude and behaviour are generally very obvious to everyone and can and do cause pain and irritation in a team. Ideally the team needs to be encouraged to start from a positive base and that will change the whole ethos of the business.
This may seem obvious but evidence tends to disprove it. Why is it that it appears easier to seek out inadequate attitude and behaviour and apply corrections than it is to start from a positive basis?
The answer lies in the simple fact that almost always we default to corrective mode because inadequate behaviour can be defined, described and visibly corrected.
So what can be done to make life easier for the leader? It has long been my contention that the most significant feature of great leadership is the ability to recognise what a positive culture looks like, to set the criteria, to communicate the values espoused and then, visibly and constantly, to drive them into the business.
In other words, responsibility for shaping the style of the business lies entirely with the leader and it is a massive responsibility.
There are so many essential facets of leadership that need to be considered and none is more appropriate than another. The important thing to remember is that if we can define unacceptable behaviour and then decide on how to correct it, why do we not take the same view of those positive behavioural traits that contribute positively to the business ethos?
Consequently it is worth examining some of those criteria that contribute to a “best place to work” atmosphere starting with the basic premise of collaborative management as distinct from the lone genius approach. Certainly leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson are the exceptions who prove the rule, these are leaders are few and far between and are usually a combination of nurture AND nature as to be unique in their own way.
What, then, really matters in the persona of an emerging leader? There are several criteria that come to mind and indeed many more hovering in the background.
Perhaps the one that percolates the whole being of the leader is consistency. There is nothing worse for members of a dedicated team, happy to work collaboratively to find that the leader is a mind changer often without obvious rationale.
If there has to be a change of mind, then a quick group discussion can solve the problem of inconsistency.
Closely following the need for consistency is respect for all the inputs of the members of the team and this can be linked to a non-judgmental attitude to relationships.
Remember that other than the probably tenuous existence of the doppelgänger everyone of the 7bn inhabitants of this planet is different with differing desires and perceptions of the ideal outcome. This implies the need for a very understanding approach to leadership.
Finally (and do I really mean finally?) there are three criteria that lie at the heart of great collaborative leadership. They are:
A great leader has to have a desire for success however that is defined, in an objective measure of certainty and with the generosity of spirit that allows everyone in the team to participate happily and cheerfully in the success of the venture.
Post-script: the leader of an outstanding family retail business, Housing Units Limited, has ensured that a neat little mantra is exhibited all over the store as follows:
If someone doesn’t give you a smile, give them one of yours.
That absolutely describes the ethos of a happy and successful business for which we are constantly striving.
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