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Wendy Brooks

Hemsley Fraser


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In a Nutshell: The five core principles of effective leadership


If you bumped into the chief executive in the lift and were asked to tell him/her what you thought the five core principles of effective leadership were, what would you say?

Wendy Brooks, director at leadership training provider, Hemsley Fraser, shares her ideas on the subject:
1. Be an active learner and foster learning in others
It is worth bearing in mind that core leadership principles and practices can be learned. In other words, leaders would be advised to commit not only to their own development, but to support similar development in others, while also acting as role models for learning throughout the organisation.
Former General Electric chief executive, Jack Welch, reportedly spent 40% of his time developing the next generation of leaders – and regarded it as his most interesting task.
2. Share a clear and compelling vision
The key to effective leadership is setting a strategic direction that is clear and compelling. But ensure that this strategy is practical at every level so that people understand where what they do fits into the bigger picture.
Also ensure that the organisation has the capability – and capacity – to achieve the goals set out and ensure that all of its systems and processes support the way that people need to work.
But remember that it is also important to measure whatever success means and be sure to balance the requirements of financial backers and shareholders with the need to invest in people and infrastructure as well as innovation. If any of these core activities are missed out, the organisation will perform at a sub-optimal level. 
3. Prioritise activity based on the business context
Leaders must prioritise their actions to suit the context of the organisation and the environment in which it operates. Different leadership skills will need to come to the fore at different times, which means that it is essential to understand the context of the situation and to be able to adapt one’s leadership style accordingly.
4. Lead with integrity, honesty and consistency
Integrity, honesty and consistency are the bedrock of good leadership because people follow leaders that they trust. Conversely, even the most compelling vision, communicated with clarity and conviction, will fall on deaf ears if a leader lacks credibility and integrity.
5. Develop leadership capacity at all levels of the organisation
This principle can be contentious as it challenges a number of assumptions about authority and the guardianship of knowledge and expertise.
However, the distinction between leadership and management has become less important than it used to be. Today’s organisations require leaders at every level that can execute strategy and ensure that employees feel motivated enough to contribute to the full.
By way of contrast, if leadership is considered to be the purview of the few, the organisation’s ability to respond quickly and effectively will be limited.

2 Responses

  1. The 5 core principals of effective leadership

    As a certified professional coach and focusing within the leadership level of many different organization industries and types I think you have identified a terrific list of core principles.  I also have found that someone is put or hired into a leadership role for many right reasons … expertise in the industry, the specific company, the specific area they oversee.  And yet a critical part of their job is that of inspirational leader and this is one area that is often given cursory attention at best in terms of helping to train the person in ways that will enhance their effectiveness as a leader.  It seems that too often, because there is little or no training around leadership effectiveness methods, the person is left to their own devices and their sense of how a leader leads.  The result we see is that a group of leaders within the same organization are employing their well-intended yet often different and sometimes ineffective ways of carrying their area forward.

    The rewarding part … and yes, even the fun part … of what we get to do is help the leader become comfortable in this aspect of their role in steps.   The core principles are right on and still one needs to learn how to instill them into their own personal approach and that takes practice … practice … practice.

    Mike Dorman
    The Third Zone LLC


  2. Leadership At Every Level and Number 6

    I absolutely agree with all five points and in particular echo the importance of developing leadership at every level throughout organisations.  For us, the critical elements are creating a culture of personal responsibility, supporting others to think at their very best and communicating effectively.  This leads me to add a 6th point to your list – develop outstanding listening skills, listen more fully and ,more readily to everyone.  This then links back to your first point – we tend to be learning when we are listening!

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Wendy Brooks


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