What Is Leadership?

Leadership: A Definitionwomen-business-leaders

According to the idea of transformational leadership  , an effective leader is a person who does the following:

  1. Creates an inspiring vision of the future.
  2. Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
  3. Manages delivery of the vision.
  4. Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.

Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things. We’ll look at each element in more detail.

1. Creating an Inspiring Vision of the Future

In business, a vision is a realistic, convincing and attractive depiction of where you want to be in the future. Vision provides direction, sets priorities, and provides a marker, so that you can tell that you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve.

To create a vision, leaders focus on an organization’s strengths by using tools such as Porter’s Five Forces  , PEST Analysis  , USP Analysis  , Core Competence Analysis   and SWOT Analysis   to analyze their current situation. They think about how their industry is likely to evolve, and how their competitors are likely to behave. They look at how they can innovate successfully  , and shape their businesses and their strategies to succeed in future marketplaces. And they test their visions with appropriate market research, and by assessing key risks using techniques such as Scenario Analysis  .

Therefore, leadership is proactive – problem solving, looking ahead, and not being satisfied with things as they are.

Once they have developed their visions, leaders must make them compelling and convincing. Acompelling vision   is one that people can see, feel, understand, andembrace. Effective leaders provide a rich picture of what the future will look like when their visions have been realized. They tell inspiring stories  , and explain their visions in ways that everyone can relate to.

Here, leadership combines the analytical side of vision creation with the passion of shared values, creating something really meaningful to the people being led.

2. Motivating and Inspiring People

A compelling vision provides the foundation for leadership. But it’s leaders’ ability to motivate and inspire people that helps them deliver that vision.

For example, when you start a new project, you will probably have lots of enthusiasm for it, so it’s often easy to win support for the project at the beginning. However, it can be difficult to find ways to keep your vision inspiring after the initial enthusiasm fades, especially if the team or organization needs to make significant changes in the way that they do things. Leaders recognize this, and they work hard throughout the project to connect their vision with people’s individual needs, goals, and aspirations.

One of the key ways they do this is through Expectancy Theory  . Effective leaders link together two different expectations:

  1. The expectation that hard work leads to good results.
  2. The expectation that good results lead to attractive rewards or incentives.

This motivates people to work hard to achieve success, because they expect to enjoy rewards – both intrinsic and extrinsic – as a result.

Other approaches include restating the vision in terms of the benefits it will bring to the team’s customers, and taking frequent opportunities to communicate the vision in an attractive and engaging way.

What’s particularly helpful here is where leaders have expert power  . People admire and believe in these leaders because they are expert in what they do. They have credibility, and they’ve earned the right to ask people to listen to them and follow them. This makes it much easier for these leaders to motivate and inspire the people they lead.

Leaders can also motivate and influence people through their natural charisma and appeal, and through other sources of power  , such as the power to pay bonuses or assign tasks to people. However, good leaders don’t rely too much on these types of power to motivate and inspire others.

3. Managing Delivery of the Vision

This is the area of leadership that relates to management  . According to theHersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model  , there is a time to tell, a time to sell, a time to participate, and a time to delegate. Knowing which approach you need to use, and when you need it, is key to effective leadership.

Leaders must ensure that the work needed to deliver the vision is properly managed – either by themselves, or by a dedicated manager or team of managers to whom the leader delegates this responsibility – and they need to ensure that their vision is delivered successfully.

To do this, team members need performance goals that are linked to the team’s overall vision. Our article on Performance Management and KPIs   (Key Performance Indicators) explains one way of doing this, and our Project Management section explains another. And, for day-to-day management of delivering the vision, the Management By Wandering Around   (MBWA) approach helps to ensure that what should happen, really happens.

Leaders also need to make sure they manage change   effectively. This helps to ensure that the changes needed to deliver the vision are implemented smoothly and thoroughly, with the support and backing of the people affected.

4. Coaching and Building a Team to Achieve the Vision

Individual and team development are important activities carried out by transformational leaders. To develop a team, leaders must first understand team dynamics. Several well-established and popular models describe this, such asBelbin’s Team Roles   approach, and Bruce Tuckman’sForming, Storming, Norming, and Performing theory  .

A leader will then ensure that team members have the necessary skills and abilities to do their job and achieve the vision. They do this by giving and receiving
feedback
  regularly, and by training and coaching   people to improve individual and team performance.

Leadership also includes looking for leadership potential   in others. By developing leadership skills within your team, you create an environment where you can continue success in the long term. And that’s a true measure of great leadership.

Note:

The words “leader” and “leadership” are often used incorrectly to describe people who are actually managing. These individuals may be highly skilled, good at their jobs, and valuable to their organizations – but that just makes them excellent managers, not leaders.

So, be careful how you use the terms, and don’t assume that people with “leader” in their job titles, people who describe themselves as “leaders,” or even groups called “leadership teams,” are actually creating and delivering transformational change.

A particular danger in these situations is that people or organizations that are being managed by such an individual or group think they’re being led; but they’re not. There may actually be no leadership at all, with no one setting a vision and no one being inspired. This can cause serious problems in the long term.

Key Points

Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people.

In the transformational leadership model, leaders set direction and help themselves and others to do the right thing to move forward. To do this they create an inspiring vision, and then motivate and inspire others to reach that vision. They also manage delivery of the vision, either directly or indirectly, and build and coach their teams to make them ever stronger.

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Tips on Speaking Professionally

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Your speaking style may be preventing you from being taken seriously, even to the point of preventing you from getting a job or advancing if you have one. If you wish to be accepted as a professional, you must possess professional speaking skills, whether you are talking to one person or a group. Fortunately, you can acquire those skills with practice.

Develop Variety in Your Style

  • If you speak with a monotone delivery, you will bore those who listen to you. Instead, vary your speaking speed, deliberately pausing occasionally and raising your voice to make a point. Be careful not to raise your voice at the end of a sentence unless you are asking a question. Raising your voice in this manner turns a statement into a question and gives the appearance that you are uncertain about what you are saying. If you end a statement by lowering your voice, you will command more authority.

Get Honest Feedback

  • As you practice your speaking skills, ask for feedback from people who will give you supportive criticism. Join Toastmasters International to get coaching and practice in polishing your speaking style. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to get up in front of a group, who will provide encouragement while helping you improve your delivery. Study how other people speak. Listen to leaders of your company and watch their delivery style. There are plenty online examples of great speakers to emulate, such as on YouTube.

    HOW TO BE PROFESSIONALLY

    Behaving professionally is an implicit, tacit trait that makes you look confident. You must also act appropriately for the circumstances. Behaving in a professional manner is a talent that can make your life a success.

Watch your personality. The first thing that a stranger sees in you is your outward personality (your first impression) but not just your good looks and charms. So always have a winning personality that everyone seeks for. Joining personality development programs is a good idea to develop your personality.

Don’t boast. Don’t go around telling everyone how you survived Antarctica barefoot or how you climbed the Mt. Everest without using oxygen cylinder. It’s good to boast a little with your close friends and family but not with everyone. They’ll just think that you’re a show-off. Let them talk about their achievements, so that you have equal right to then establish your status. You must not be a self-centered person, but let other people express their views, on ideas upon the meeting table.

Listen. Don’t talk about you and your life only. Let other tell you about themselves, and listen to them. It’s a very good and professional habit to show interest in what they’re saying. Never ignore them while they’re speaking either.

  • It is not a good idea to interrupt the person who is speaking because one may get irritated. Realize the input you would like to make, and find the right time to do so.
  • However, if you disturb the person that you’re listening to, while they’re speaking — hopefully, this person will want to keep the conversation interactive, but remember, don’t go off the topic when disturbing their presentation or point of view.

Dress up professionally. It simply means wear the clothes in which you are comfortable with. The dress should strictly match with your personality or else people are just going to laugh behind your back. If you are a nerd type of guy, don’t go around with a punk type dress.

  • It is also a very good idea to make your own signature style regarding dress. For example, Steve Jobs wore his turtle neck, Levis jeans and white shoes in each and every keynote and public appearances.

Have simple hair styles. Make your style professional looking, wearing deodorant, cologne, perfume, etc. Make sure that your appearance does not reflect immaturity.

Learn to behave professionally. Look directly in the eye of people who are talking to you; don’t make weird faces and don’t stare too much either, doing this to make the speaker think that you respect him but are not intimidated by him.

Do not get overexcited about a product. No matter how hyped the product is, getting overexcited just displays immaturity. If someone has a product that you’ve been waiting to buy, don’t beg them to give it to you a few moments sooner. Keep your calm and your excitement under control.

Talk less, but talk with sense. Don’t talk too much with people unless it’s about sharing valuable ideas with the other people. Be sure to talk with logical, good sense. People should think that you are talkative, but in a good way.

Talk formally. Remember, while you are talking less, with clear sense, be sure to talk formally as well. Speaking informally will leave a bad impression on other people, especially if you are just getting to know a person.

  • Remember not to have the “holier than thou” and the “know it all” attitude; it just puts people off.

Accessorize yourself with some of the latest gadgets in the world. You must be updated with the latest world of fashion and technology and learn to walk with the modern times. Always accessorize yourself professionally.

Don’t ignore others. If someone asks for a necessary help, then please help them, but if a person shows up with a task which he/she can easily do but is too lazy to do it, then advise the person to “Do it for yourself.”

Be good at what you do. If you have several skills or talents, be best at it and never ever try to imitate others. You must always have a great deal of competence so that others will likely notice your professionalism.

Be respectful to others. Be it rich or poor, a CEO or regular staff, your grandpa or the garbage collector, you must respect everybody that you encounter. You must respect all jobs and talk to everybody with equal respect. Slowly, when people start noticing this trait, you’ll be respected.

Learn to keep a promise. If you’ve ever given a promise to somebody, then make sure you keep it. Doing this will make the person think that you are reliable and honest, a trait which will boost your professionalism.

Try to be punctual, not too nonchalant. Time should mean a lot to you. Always be on time for meetings, whether it is with your friends or your clients. Your punctuality will be remembered by other people, as being late drastically lowers the respect that other people have for you.

Don’t be overconfident. Do not show a grin, snarl or grimace. If some work or project is given to you, then don’t grin, or seem overly proud; just put your head up with a very slight smile (or anything else that makes people realize that you are okay with the work and the responsibility). You can also show this confidence at home, work or even on a date.

Pull out evidence when talking. Bring out factual information–citing a quote, offering, bringing forward evidence or support–for your issues. It will influence the person to whom you are telling a quote. But these examples must be related to what you all are talking about. Not trying to do so, will just make you appear to be uninterested in the conversation.

Don’t get overly emotional, proud, hurt or angry. Even it’s a funeral, or your friend’s Nobel acceptance speech, keep things simple and go for a firm handshake to congratulate each. Stay silent at funerals with no obvious tears in the eye; otherwise people may think that you are way too emotional to act professionally in all circumstances.

Tips

  • You can try to rehearse your professionalism, with simple style and a kind of formality everyday such as in front of the mirror (in the beginning phase).
  • Maybe you’ll be discouraged at the beginning but don’t give up’.’
  • You may become shy at first to act professional. But, as time passes by you’ll get used to it.
  • When you’ve made a promise to others and have a hard time to keep up the word, just offer some alternatives or other stuff to the specific person.
  • While behaving professionally, you must not often laugh or grin. Smile rarely, and that would make you seem serious upon your own life and to be seemingly to have no time to waste on silly jokes.