A successful leader has to move beyond thinking about finding balance between authority and collaboration. An effective leader must be able to engage in behaviors that get results. In my experience as an executive coach, I’ve found that the most critical behaviors are:
– The ability to articulate AND execute the company Vision
– Emotional intelligence, and in particular, empathy
– Calm in the face of adversity
– Absolute, unwavering integrity
Here’s why I believe these behaviors are critical:
Individuals will be more engaged in their jobs if they clearly understand how their role and their contributions affect the achievement of the company’s Vision. The Vision can be mere words on a plaque in the foyer…or it can be a roadmap for how people channel their time and energies on a daily basis.
Whenever I conduct employee focus groups, the most prevalent complaint I hear from disengaged employees is that leaders don’t understand them; don’t ask them what they think about projects or processes; and don’t exhibit caring if they’re anxious or fearful of change.
If a crisis erupts, leaders at any level are the ones that employees look to for a steady, objective and calm approach towards resolution. The leader sets the tone, helps others keep calm, and fosters an environment where solutions to solve the crisis can be generated.
Integrity means different things to different people; however, a fundamental description for me is this: a person of integrity does what she says she’ll do. A person of integrity upholds the core values that he has said are important to him, even when that’s really, really hard to do.
Bob McDonald, when he was CEO of Procter & Gamble, is one of the leaders John Kucia and I interviewed for our book. He said, “humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less often.” A confident leader is willing to let others share their ideas and explore their creativity – she allows true brainstorming and doesn’t allow brainstomping.
In my next post, I’ll explore some concrete tools and approaches to build these leadership competencies.