The debate over what makes a good leader is a long, controversial and passionate one. In this week’s opinion piece Claudine McClean, of Structured Training, offers her view.
The leadership imperative is increasing. Organisations that don’t have a clear strategy for leadership development are putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage. Unfortunately, it doesn’t develop naturally as time passes but instead needs positive stimulation and focus.
Here’s my personal view of leadership:
* To lead you must have a point of view that motivates others to act. Explaining and rationalising is not enough, people want to hear something that explains a different reality to the one they have.
* Leadership is about giving people hope, small or large scale, personal or organisational.
* The “hollow middle leadership vacuum” is increasingly common. The CEO (or equivalent) behaves as an effective leader; front line people get the message and start to work through the implications. Where then are the middle managers to fill out that leadership message and embed whatever is required? Often they go missing, simply replaying the CEO’s line and waiting themselves for his/her next town hall meeting.
* To be an effective leader you have to be a functional human being. Being in the middle of your own personal crises or breakdown will not enable you to emphasise or connect with others.
* You cannot lead if you are in business survival mode. Leaders take risks. That means having sufficient confidence to not require the desperate holding on to a role at any cost.
* Leadership is about doing not having.
* The modern organisation needs leaders who can influence across functions, up hierarchies, and into external networks. Needing formal authority to get anything done is “so yesterday”.
* Leaders are interested in power, it’s not something they feel embarrassed about seeking.
* What distinguishes the good from the bad leader, and the honourable from the wicked leader is what they seek to do with that power.
* Do you agree with Claudine McClean’s checklist for leadership? Post a comment below.