The following is a guest post by leadership consultant and award-winning author Sylvia Lafair. In this post, Sylvia discusses leadership development and the qualities and characteristics of effective leaders.
Investing in leadership development is critical for today's climate of constant change, continued complexity, crises, and challenges.
The big question is how to prioritize and underline the characteristics most important for an effective 21st Century leader to take charge and lead his or her organization.
Leadership Skills - What Really Needs to be Developed?
In simpler times we could say that to bring out the best in the brightest and to enhance natural talent, there would be a yearlong immersion into personal as well as professional development. Now, the speed of change makes that a luxury no longer appropriate.
As a result there are five characteristics - or priorities - that must be cultivated in individuals seeking leadership roles.
Priority 1 - Decisiveness
Develop the strength of the leader to effectively analyze complex problems and have a strong systemic view of what has to be done. This is key in a world where we are all truly connected and decisions have long term ramifications. This means asking important questions and looking past symptom solutions that usually backfire.
Priority 2 - Composure
Demonstrate self-control in difficult situations; unlike the persecutor/bully boss who creates fear and defensiveness preventing real work from getting done.
Priority 3 - Change/ Conflict Management
Ability to help others overcome resistance to change by understanding how anxiety to situations you learned from your original organization - the family - show up in the work organization, especially during times of change.
Priority 4 - Personal/Interpersonal Awareness
Knowing what pushes your buttons and how to turn upsets and annoyances into teaching times for everyone's benefit.
Priority 5 - Sensitivity, Compassion and Respect for Differences
Capacity to get past the superficial and know those with whom you work; showing a true interest in colleagues' lives and a sensitivity to personal and professional needs.
Effective Leadership Means 'Know Thy Self'
When you look for the common denominator in the above leadership priorities, it comes down to really knowing oneself and understanding through the lens of self how others also are impacted by relationships.
Decisiveness is a key leadership skill.
Most seminars and programs focus on the tactical and use case studies to help leaders-in-training grow to the next level. We know, however, that long-term, sustained learning comes from experiencing rather than just seeing or listening.
Thus programs such as Total Leadership Connections, among others, help to weave the five priorities of effective leadership into a tightly knit cloth to give high potentials the right skills and tools needed to succeed in the rest of their careers, and in the rest of their lives.
Effective Leadership Requires People Skills
This keeps the talent pool fresh and lively since these future leaders have learned to handle conflict and fear of change in an experiential manner, discussing their childhood stresses and how they impact present stressors at work. They learn to experience and understand why certain people push their buttons and the communication skills required to get results rather than to get even.
No matter how you slice and dice it, people skills are the difference between a leader that has long term followers and a leader that derails and falls away into oblivion after a short time. Either way, the same amount of time and effort goes into leadership development so why not give the gift that keeps on giving - skills that are programmed for high level success for years to come.
Sylvia Lafair, Ph.D., author of the award winning book, "Don't Bring It to Work", "Working Together" and "Pattern Aware Success Guide"e- book, is President of CEO, Creative Energy Options, Inc., a global consulting company focused on optimizing workplace relationships through extratordinary leadership. Dr. Lafair's unique model has revolutionized the way teams cooperate, relate and innovate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-636-3858; www.sylvialafair.com