The popular thinking is that leaders are born that way, that it’s in their DNA to be able to effectively lead others. It presumably holds, then, that if one does not possess certain personality traits or characteristics, then they’re doomed to a life as a FOLLOWER. I believe, however, that we all possess the ability to lead, and that there is no set of traits and characteristics unique to "leaders".
Dr. David Mutchler and Linda Martin, who studied the subject of leadership for years, agree. They contend that the conventional wisdom of growing leadership qualities in people and, then, that results will follow – is outdated and ineffective. First, they note, the impact of such changes on company results is difficult, if not impossible, to measure. Second, attempting to change personal leadership attributes in people can take considerable time and effort.
So what is the new paradigm? Retired Army Colonel Dandridge M. Malone once said, "The very essence of leadership is its purpose. And the purpose of leadership is to accomplish a task. That is what leadership does – and what is does is more important than what it is and how it works." Can you relate to the statement: "Leadership is all about results"?
In a results-based model, instead of a competency-based model of leadership development, every attempt to develop people is both defined and justified by the outcome it is intended to achieve. Makes sense, right? This is not to infer that methods (the "how") don’t matter, but in the final analysis, as the saying goes: Results are everything.
If the leadership in your company is failing:
- Your first responsibility is to make the shift in how you define leadership – from personal attributes to the ability to set goals and achieve results.
- The second step is identifying those processes that will ensure that you take specific action to create results-based leaders within your organization.
- The third step is to implement and institutionalize the crucial leadership development processes: i) aligning a company’s resources with its vision, core values and strategies, and ii) staffing the organization with people who are confident, focused on solutions, and have positive mental attitudes, and iii) utilizing a goal-setting and goal-achievement process that helps the organization plan the steps and pull together the resources that make the vision happen.
Although everyone has leadership potential, few develop it. To most effectively lead others, consider mastering the art of self-leadership. As a leader, the most important person you will ever lead is YOU.
So think about you or your company’s current level of performance. Possibly some new thinking around leadership might help improve those results!