Whether it’s inclusive, transformative or authentic – people have been trying to define ‘good leadership’ for decades. But effective leadership is the only leadership style that matters. Whilst some of the elements of effective leadership have flexed post-pandemic, other core elements remain as relevant today as they were in Roman times.
So what qualities are at the heart of good leadership? And are some people more likely to be effective leaders than others?
Who can be a leader?
Not everyone possesses the talent and potential to be an effective leader. This is because personality traits play a key role in an individual’s readiness to lead. Qualities such as resilience, adaptability and being a continuous learner are among the innate characteristics that are crucial to being an impactful leader, capable of steering an organisation towards sustained success.
As naturally occurring personality traits, these qualities are more difficult to learn and develop. For businesses to ensure they have the leadership talent needed to drive success in this changed world of hybrid working, technological advancement, and employee expectation, it’s crucial that they utilise assessment practices to examine their workforce and identify the individuals within the organisation who possess the natural ability to become world-class leaders.
How to lead with impact
Once an organisation has accurately identified the most capable leaders and future leaders within their workforce, they can then focus on creating a culture where leaders feel encouraged to practice, refine and develop their learned behaviours and leadership skills on an ongoing basis. This is where those who may not possess some of the natural leadership traits can compensate, utilising key behaviours to make up for a lack of innate ability.
The Leading with Impact framework identifies 15 behaviours that are key to effective leadership. Here, we examine just four:
Enable inclusion: Great leaders embrace difference and actively encourage and value the involvement of all voices and views, acting as the catalyst in driving diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within an organisation. Good leadership includes taking an unbiased approach to creating a diverse workforce, while ensuring equitable access to development and advancement opportunities, as well as working to remove barriers of progression.
Exercise sound judgement: It’s important for leaders to adapt their decision-making approach by considering all the information available to them. Employees want to feel heard and as if they’re making a difference in their work, and effective leaders will foster this sense of purpose by inviting ideas and thoughts from their wider team when key decisions are being made. Doing so can not only create higher levels of engagement whereby team members feel more inclined to offer their thoughts and ideas; but can also help leaders see things from a different perspective and avoid being blind-sighted by a lack of information.
Inspire passion through clear communication: World-class leaders will connect with others and engage the hearts and minds of their colleagues and teams around a shared vision or goal. ManpowerGroup research found that 75% of workers want to feel motivated and passionate about their work, while 2 in 3 want to work for organisations that share their own values – with the betterment of society remaining high on the agenda for 64% of employees. Effective leadership fosters motivation transparent communications that connect organisational vision with wider societal issues, and demonstrate how individual contributions directly contribute towards meeting shared goals.
Step in / Step out effectively: Too often, leaders don’t flex their leadership style in response to who they’re working with, despite one size of leadership not fitting every scenario. An effective leader is able to assess a situation and identify whether they need to step in and offer their expertise, or step out and encourage autonomy. Effectively stepping in enables the sharing of knowledge and expertise, while knowing when to step out encourages independent growth and development, creating autonomy amongst teams.
Explore the Leading with Impact framework to identify the components that make up effective leadership in your businesses.
Author: Jacques Quinio, Leadership Solutions Director — Right Management UK