EssayThe 6 Skills Every Active Leader Needs
No one said being a good leader was easy. It takes a lot of energy, focus and most of all a lot of learning.
To keep up with a continually changing workplace, leaders need to be truly collaborative partners and realistically commit to building and promoting a learning culture. That means they must constantly develop and apply new skills, and help others in their organization to grow and change their behaviors. To do that requires establishing clear and relevant expectations for learning and development so the appropriate resources, support and incentives are used to drive successful growth and positive outcomes.
It’s also critically important that leaders embrace the dynamics of being active leaders, and be fully engaged with the workforce. There are six competency components to being an active leader, and they are cornerstones built on a passion for success and a commitment to people. They are:
Action-Catalyst: An active leader is always focused on driving results. In an authentic and realistic way, the leader needs to be out of the office, connecting with the employee population and not stuck behind a desk. Work can’t dominate life. Instead, leaders must delegate and negotiate, learn the art of prioritizing their workload, and take charge of technology. Active leaders must aspire to grow themselves as well as support others’ development. In this way actions become valued and sustainable results.
Collaborating-Connector: An active leader is an open and honest communicator committed to driving success through creativity and a willingness to embrace change with curiosity. Key is to build a learning culture based on compassion and companionship. Capabilities can be cultivated through coaching, counseling and mentoring. As Sherry Turkle wrote in her book, “Reclaiming Conversation,” “We live in a technological world in which we are always communicating and yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection. To love and be loved, to fully understand and engage with the world around us, we must be in conversation.” By being fully transparent and communicating openly, conversations can drive continuous performance improvements and build competitive advantages.
Trusted-Educator: An active leader is a trusted-educator who helps relationships focus on technology and critical thinking. Trust builds employee connections, which are further driven by dynamic levels of appreciation, acknowledgement and thanks. Leaders need to be real teachers, driving employees’ talent and growth by using transparent behaviors. In Bill Conaty and Ram Charan’s book “The Talent Masters,” “Smart leaders put people before numbers. Talent will be the big differentiator between companies that succeed and those that don’t.” Developing employee talent and capabilities will lead to higher success achieving business goals and objectives.
Inspiring-Influencer: An active leader inspires an innovative workforce. Leaders have the great power to influence employees. They build on insights from all contributions, they listen, and they learn. This authentic leader demonstrates commitment by taking charge of challenging situations, and by speaking openly and honestly so that corporate goals are heard and understood. As described in John Zenger, Joseph Folkman and Scott Edinger’s book “The Inspiring Leader,” besides a clear vision and establishing stretch goals, there is a need to champion change, foster innovation and use the power of emotions. Using emotions and feelings, being open and having compassion, leaders can drive connections throughout the work environment.
Visionary-Persuader: An active leader is values-driven and prioritizes enhancement of positive employee behaviors. This serves as the foundation for futuristic thinking and helps to build the organization’s vision. Leaders help employees to fully embrace a long-term perspective and to gain an understanding of forward-thinking beliefs and approaches. Employees are better able to understand the business challenges that leaders face in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Taking risks and making difficult decisions requires leaders to step out of their comfort zones and accept their own vulnerability. As per Harry Jansen Kraemer’s book titled “From Values to Actions,” leaders need to focus on people and set direction so that changes can be made with purpose. A clear and dynamic vision becomes a part of the company culture and a way of company life. Then, employees can better impact short-term goals and long-term objectives.
Execution-Driver: An active leader is an execution-driver, empowering colleagues and helping everyone to extract specific capabilities from their learning experiences. Besides having energy and the enthusiasm to execute dynamic strategic goals, leaders need to encourage open communication, collaboration and teamwork to be effective. They need to build a mindset focused on learning, promoting the company values, and on finding ways to accelerate change initiatives. Executing defined objectives and promoting engagement can drive successful and impactful outcomes.
Leadership is based on relationships, emotional connections, authenticity, growth, commitment, trustworthiness and the desire to improve. It comes from both the head and the heart. To be an effective, active leader, all six of the aforementioned competency components need to be used to drive business successes.
Paul Fein is managing leader and director for The IDD Leadership Group LLC. To comment, email editor@CLOmedia.com.