It doesn’t matter if you like leading or are a lousy leader, you are probably leading something or the other right now, whether it is a family, business, community, team etc. We all are in a position to shape someone’s thoughts, dreams, aspirations and beliefs. The only difference is how many people we influence.
According to a Gallup study quoted in “Strengths Based #Leadership” effective leaders do the following 3 things:
1. Always invest in strengths– Operating from strengths whether they are your own or someone else’s, is essential to accomplishing tasks. When you fail to focus on the individual’s strengths the chances of him/her being productive is just about 9% but when you do pay attention the number increases to around 73%. Everybody has only certain strengths and as a leader you are no different. It is crucial that you play your cards to involve everybody’s strengths as this increases your chances of completing the task drastically.
Know your strength – Not knowing your strengths makes leading almost next to impossible. Figure out your strengths using :
- The feedback of your managers (past and present)
- 360 degree assessments
- Psychometric assessments like Extended DISC
- Services of a coach
This knowledge is the starting point. Every situation is different, every leader is different. Remember, every leader leads based upon their talents, mannerisms, limitations, etc. so don’t compare or try to copy even the most world-renowned leaders. Be yourself, be authentic.
Understand others strengths: Everyone is unique; the one thing that definitely does not work is using a cookie cutter approach to leading people. Extended DISC talks about 4 styles: Dominance -D Style, Influence-I Style, Steadiness- Style and Compliance C- Style. Gallup’s 34 themes sort into 4 domains of leadership strength: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, Strategic Thinking. These leadership domains are very similar to the DISC styles. The issue is not what system you use to understand strengths but that you do.
Long term effect – if you fixate upon the weaknesses of people, they lose confidence and become self-conscious which leads to them under performing. On the other hand when you focus on the strengths of people and work on them, they become even more productive.
- Surround yourself with the right sort of people and then maximize your team – The important to thing to realize is that a leader need not be well rounded. He/she can’t excel in everything. But a team should be well rounded. Effective leaders find the right people and then build upon their strengths. Yet organizations promote people on the basis of how well they perform their current task and not on their leadership experience or potential. The best person at the job is given the most senior position without test or assessment of how they lead a group, how effective they are or how well work would be done under their super vision. Even if there are interviews, it is easy to portray yourself in good light. For e.g.: we all dress a little better & look a little more sophisticated when we go for an interview. I think that continuous assessments while the person isn’t aware of them would give us a much more accurate picture of leadership capability
- Understand why people follow – People follow a leader for a reason, they are expecting something from the leader. You have to understand the reason they are following you so that you can at least try to meet their expectations. According to a Gallup Study, the four major needs of followers are trust, compassion, stability and hope. Do you know specifically why a certain team member is following you? If not, find out.
It is not easy to be an effective leader but it is definitely a worthwhile pursuit.
Contributed by Lovely Kumar, Chief-Projects, Larks Learning & Lariena Kumar, Associate, Larks Learning
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