Continuing Professional Development
Fitness test on leadership skills
Have you got what it takes to make a good leader? Study the different leadership styles and then take the personality test.
Will the leader please stand up? Not the president, or the person with the most distinguished titles, but the role model. Not the highest-paid person in the group, but the risk taker. Not the person with the largest car or the biggest home, but the servant. Not the person who promotes himself, but the promoter of others. Not the administrator, but the initiator. Not the taker, but the giver. Not the talker, but the listener. (Peter F. Drucker: The Leaders of the Future,)
Management today is as much about leadership as it is about getting tasks done. Whether you work in a small team, head up a department or are the CEO of a major organisation, in these times of rapid change where employees are a lot more mobile and demanding of their work environment everyone needs to develop their leadership skills in order to be successful at their jobs. Management is about getting tasks done, leadership about the people who do them. Management is about the what; leadership about the how and the why. Numerous studies now show the impact of leadership styles on the bottom line as well as the longevity of organisations. There are a number of ways to describe different types of leadership. Daniel Goleman distinguishes 6 styles of leadership. Each style has its strengths (…and moments). Leadership can be:
- Visionary: The classic mode of leadership, it moves people towards shared dreams. The impact is most positive when changes require a new vision, or when a clear direction is needed. However, this style does not work in every situation; for example, when a manager trying to impose a vision against the recommendation and better knowledge of more experienced peers loses touch with the agenda in hand.
- Coaching: Connects what a person wants with organisational goals. Appropriate when helping an employee improve performance by building long term capabilities. This style is most effective when used with long term development and performance goals, for individuals, teams and organisations. It is likely to fail when employees are demotivated or lack initiative. Exaggerated coaching can turn into micro-managing.
- Affiliative: Creates harmony by connecting people to each other. Useful for healing rifts in a team, motivating employees during stressful times or strengthening connections, this style can have a positive impact on group ambience and team communication. On the other hand, sometimes this is not enough: overly democratic leaders can worry more about getting along with people than getting the job done and lead a team to failure through lack of direction.
- Democratic: Values people's input and gets commitment through participation. Allows to build consensus or to get valuable input from employees and may be best when it is unclear which direction to take and when input from experienced staff is required. On the downside, using this approach too lavishly can lead to endless meetings and paralysis through analysis. The only outcomes are … more meetings. Also, seeking advice from uninformed employees can spell disaster in a time of crisis.
- Pacesetting: Meets challenging and exciting goals. Leaders who use this style are usually driven by high standards of excellence and achievement; yet because frequently this style is poorly executed, it can have highly negative effects and seems appropriate only when you want to get high quality results from an already motivated and competent team. Because pace setting increases the pressure on all, it raises the anxiety levels within a team and the cherished vision behind the pace disappears in the face of coping with ever more pressing urgencies.
- Commanding: Soothes fears by giving a clear direction in an emergency. Because it is most often misused it can be highly negative and should be limited to kick-start a turnaround in a crisis, or as a last resort with problem employees. Used too often, for too long a period, it generates ill-feeling in the organisation and drives away talented employees who "don't need this". Top-down leadership may have its place during a crisis. But when the crisis is over, what is needed is a leader who can create an environment where every employee is responsible - and accountable - for sustaining success.
Emotional self-control, empathy, compassion, listening: these are the crucial ingredients that will make you a better leader. The leader's main challenges have to do with self-management; becoming a successful leader is part of the lifelong learning process that we do all too often neglect in the heat of daily action.
Using the following question, take a few minutes to reflect on some of your leadership competencies. Be honest with yourself:
- Do you recognise the importance of management and leadership, and the difference between the two?
- Do you want to make your organisation a great place to be as well as hugely profitable?
- Do you have a sense of the larger purpose of your work - and do you convey this to your staff and colleagues?
- Do you create an open work environment and recognise the contributions others are making?
- Are you able to balance hard decisions with sensitivity to the needs of your team?
- Are you open to out-of-the box thinking and new and challenging ways of doing things?
- Are you aware of your behaviour and emotions as well as the impact they can have on others?
- Do you respect the people who work with you or do you consider them a resource?
- Do you agree that team development is crucial for the bottom line of the organisation?
- Do you have a 360-degree feedback system in place and, if so, can you accept constructive feedback gracefully and act on it?
- Can you inspire others to give their best in critical situations?
- Are you able to resolve conflict fairly and effectively?
No one is perfect; if you cannot give a resounding 'yes' to the large majority of these questions, there is room for progress (isn't there always…?).
About the author
Jean Marc Rommes works as a consultant and coach with AGA, a subsidiary of MICE Group PLC. AGA provides customised training, coaching and business development solutions to corporate clients. The contact number is 020 7493 3737. Jean Marc Rommes can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jane Cranwell-Ward et al.: Inspiring Leadership - Staying afloat in turbulent times - A Leadership Case Study of the BT Global Challenge, Thomson, 2002
- H. Owen: In Search of Leaders; John Wiley, Chichester, 2000
- P. F. Drucker: The Leaders of the Future; The Drucker Foundation, 1996
- J. Kotter: What Leaders Really Do; Harvard Business School Press, 1999
- Daniel Goleman et al.: The New Leaders - Transforming The Art Of Leadership Into The Science of Results; LittleBrown, 2002
- Website: The Institute of Leadership and Management: www.nebsmgt.co.uk
- Website: Centre for Creative Leadership: www.ccl.org