9 Signs of Engaging Leaders
As highlighted in the blog Upgrade to a modern Leadership style born leaders no longer have the impact they once did. Sport provides us with some high profile examples of management and leadership and one arguable example of a born leader who no longer has the impact they once did is Jose Mourinho. Compare his, sometimes abrasive style, with the more engaging leaders style of Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola. We must learn to upgrade to a new level of influence – to learn from these engaging football managers.
Research undertaken a few years ago identified four main stages of leadership. This same research identified that most successful leaders have progressed through all four stages of leadership.
- Dependent (like a child): focused on getting what’s needed from others in authority. The power comes from other people, and that power affects the self. “I’ll ask the boss about your request.”
- Independent (like a teenager): focused on being competent and self-reliant. The power comes from the self, and that power affects the self. “I’m my own boss.”
- Imperial (like a benevolent dictator): focused on having an impact and making things happen through other people. The power comes from the self, and that power affects other people. “I influence you.”
- Interactive (like a sports team’s captain): focused on outcomes that make a difference for and with others. The power comes from other people, and that power affects other people. “We influence each other.”
However, you are more likely to be successful if you advance beyond the first three stages of leadership. Ever had a lousy boss? Those people are interested in controlling other people, but that doesn’t make them a great leader.
A traditional approach to leadership is based around the aspects of Imperial leadership. Their companies used a top-down, command-and-control approach that consistently produced better business results and employee morale. A great leader was charismatic, visionary, and excellent at making decisions.
Today’s workforce, though, is more diverse, with more women and more ethnicities represented. Technology makes information accessible to everyone. And globalization means greater competition and opportunities. As a result, the leaders who are producing the best business results are now those high in Interactive leadership.
Today, great engaging leaders
- Are empathetic, authentic, self-disclosing – leaders who care about their own feelings and those of their employees
- Are agile and flexible – leaders who are able to forecast better, think more flexibly and are willing to change viewpoint and direction.
- Are collaborative, including co-creating a shared purpose with the team (rather than casting a vision for the team)
- Sees and tolerates ambiguity and paradox – leaders who have the ability to understand that not everything is black and white and relating back to the earlier point can encourage flexible thinking. This in turn can and will reduce a blame culture.
- Encourages group accountability – leaders who can encourage their teams to go beyond compliance and contribution but encourage commitment through group decision making.
- Shares decision-making with others – as highlighted earlier leaders who share decision making with others and are therefore not authoritarian in their approach
- Stimulates questioning and dialogue – leaders who encourage a coaching style of leadership. Leaders who don’t tell how but ask how others would do it. Leaders who stop directing and start asking.
- Takes great pride in work outcomes (rather than in gaining and keeping power) – leaders who become a captain on the pitch rather than the manager telling. Captains lead by showing and doing, not telling. Captains lead by being part of the team on the pitch rather than standing on the side lines shouting orders.
- Regards long-term planning as a critical activity – leaders who are able to see and think the long term vision but also able to identify that the journey can be more important than the outcome.
This new reality doesn’t just apply to larger corporate businesses. SME’s, self-employed people, and those who dream of owning their own business should pay attention too. To be in business is to be a leader. No matter how large or small your business, you have potential “followers” … whether they may be employees, suppliers, subcontractors, or even customers.
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