Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition.Buy now on Amazon
This month Paul is going to give us some of his expert advice on what qualities a leader should possess and how to be an effective leader under pressure.
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Firstly, I think that there are many, many qualities which leaders have. The list could probably reach 100 and depending on who you are different qualities will be more important than others.
Honesty & Integrity.
Having integrity is crucial as a Leader. It is one of the most fundamental ways to build trust. You can do all the right things for people, show kindness, manage well, understand their needs, help them set goals and support them, but if people get the slightest whiff that you’re duplicitous it all becomes pointless. Integrity is greater than honesty. Honesty is telling the truth; integrity is about keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. It is about holding oneself to a high moral standard. Both are the mechanisms which allow people to follow willingly.
Excellent Communication Skills.
‘If you explain something to me once and I don’t understand it, that’s my fault. If you explain it to me again and I still don’t understand it, it’s your fault’.
I believe that communication skills are our most important lifeskill; they are second to none. Every action and interaction that we have is influenced by our ability to do this well (or not) and it will dictate the quality of your life as a leader and in life. How well do you communicate with the people you work with? The people you share your life with? How well do you communicate even with yourself (yes, that voice that chats to you in your head, the one that’s telling you you don’t have a voice in your head!). These interactions are one of the strongest influencers on the life you lead.
How much time, effort and energy do you spend working on this skill? If it is a fraction of the time you spend on your work, it would be extraordinary! Do you find your instructions or presentations met with blank faces? Do you make yourself available to your team? Do you say your ‘door is always open’ but never actually have the time for people who need you? Do you regularly speak with those you work with? With good communication you build trust, people know where they stand with you, they know what to expect. The best leaders communicate exceptionally well.
Optimism is a state of mind. It’s a choice we make about how we want to view a situation. What is it like to work with a pessimistic leader? Draining? Exhausting? Painful? Leaders who are purely focussed on the problems in situations tend not to have loyalty and enthusiasm of teams. So what’s it like to work with an Optimistic leader? Refreshing? Energising? Inspiring? Yes!
Optimism is a choice we make to see the opportunity in situations rather than dwelling on the problems. Optimistic people tend to be proactive. It is important to qualify that blind optimism, where everything is wonderful all of the time, is often deeply annoying. There needs to be a healthy dose of realism attached to it. There is no point standing in the garden chanting, ‘there are no weeds’, when there are clearly weeds, it is important to see things how they are, just not worse than they are. An optimist would acknowledge the weeds but focus on the flowers and possibly consider how to get rid of the weeds. Optimism is a powerful leadership trait.
Leadership is a choice, not a position, rank or job title. There are many people in business who are not leaders, they are authorities; they think it means the same thing. We do what those in authority say not because we want to follow them but because they have authority over us.
Everyday we see people in junior positions who don’t have the authority but show leadership. They do this by choosing to look after the people around them. They choose to help others, they choose to give to others and they choose to ensure that those around them are doing ok. This is what leaders do. They start a cycle of generosity and care that comes back to them when they need it.
There are people we call leaders and then there are those who lead. Leaders have a position of power, whereas those who lead inspire us. They make us feel as if we can be great. We follow them, not because we have to, but because we want to. Leadership is not a position, rank or job title; leadership is a choice.
Success is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. To be a leader in your field you have to master your mind. It’s too easy when things go wrong to look at where to lay blame. Unfortunately, challenges are an inevitable part of business so we have to train ourselves to focus on what we can control rather than wasting our time and energy on the things we can’t. There is no shortage of risk or pressure and so we have to decide what we want to focus on. People who spend their time reacting to the events going on around them which they can’t control, are in a position of weakness, feeding stress and feeling out of control as a consequence. They struggle to show direction and make the right decisions. Those who are proactive typically show great leadership skills. They focus on the things they are able to influence and spend their energy there. They turn up behind their eye sockets prepared for the day, prepared to be readily flexible and adaptive to the events that they face.
Anticipation is power. Leaders anticipate.
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Why are some people and organisations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty? In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way – and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. People like Martin Luther King Jr, Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why.Buy now on Amazon
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