What Makes an Excellent Leader?
Unfortunately, not everyone who is promoted to a leadership position is an excellent, natural leader. Excellent leadership requires reflection and adaptation. Excellent leaders exhibit leadership characteristics, they don’t just rely on their authoritative titles.
Not all leaders guide their team in the same way. A leader’s style should be aligned with their personality. You can smell a phony leader from a mile away. No one respects someone who is pretending to be someone they are not whether that is in a desperate plea to gain respect, or a half-hearted attempt to mimic the leadership style of another person. Plus, very few leaders would volunteer to spend all of their time pretending to be someone they aren’t; that’s a recipe for burnout.
Excellent leadership behavior isn’t one-size-fits-all, it’s specific to the individual’s personality style, and the style of their employee.
But excellent leadership isn’t just about your personality style, it also comes down to how you make your decisions, and how you communicate.
Leadership is About Timing
One of the most important thing a leader does is understand the timing of decisions and implementation of strategies. Too many leaders fall into one of 2 categories, either rushing to make a decision and coming to regret it, or procrastinating on making a decision until they miss an important opportunity.
Leadership is About Riding the Wave
PeopleKeys’ Director of International Development and Master Trainer, Dr. Bradley Smith, likens decision making to riding a surfboard. He explains:
"Timing is key. Think of decision making like riding a surfboard. We have all seen great surfers on television, and they make it look easy, but it is actually very difficult."
A surfer, in addition to their own skills, needs 3 things:
1. A surfboard.
Think of this as the tools you use to accomplish your goals. A writer's “surfboard” might be their keyboard. A Marketing Manager might have their presentations. A Business Manager might have data and information about their competition. These are their respective tools of the trade. You need to be aware of the tools of your trade, and wield them strategically.
2. A wave
The second thing a surfer needs is a wave. Think of the wave as the trends that affect your position and strategic plan. For example, you could consider the effect of the baby boomer generation on the economy and specific markets. When the Baby Boomer generation people were young, the baby food companies made a killing in sales. Now, as this generation is reaching retirement age, we see the healthcare industry booming. There is a wave of baby boomers reaching the point where they need increased medical assistance and attention. Successful companies understood this baby boomer wave from conception to retirement, even death. They adjusted their strategic plan to ride these waves.
3. A perfect position and timing
Last, and most importantly, the surfer needs to be in the right position. The best professional surfers know which waves to let go...not every wave is an opportunity. When the right wave starts to break, you can see the professional work to position her/his board to take full advantage. They begin to paddle feverishly to reach the exactly perfect position they need to capitalize on the momentum of the wave.
When these three things are put together...
- Tools (surfboard)
- Trend Identification (wave)
- Timing (position)
… a leader can place themselves in the right position to make a timely decision, and jump on the right opportunity when it comes along. They can lead their team so it can ride the wave to success.
Ready to Ride the Wave?
Having an executive coach and using self exploration tools can help you with all three facets, and help turn you into an excellent leader.
Do you know and understand your decision making style? A good coach can help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses so you can excel at making a timely decision. You can get your tools and position right so you can strike when the opportunity arises, and ride that wave to a more profitable outcome.
Second, a good coach can help you focus on current opportunities, and help you identify which ones you have successfully conquered in the past. Maybe there is a certain "wave" you have a natural ability to ride better than the competition. Identifying this can help you stand out.
Third, these tools position leaders so that when an opportunity does arrive, they can quickly mobilize their team. They can have their team obtain the precise positioning needed to gain the most from an opportunity that may not come along for some time again. Understanding your team style thinking and the people around you will never leave you "guessing" as to whether something is achievable or not!
When you combine knowledge about your leadership style with these three keys of excellent leadership, your team will really be ready to pounce on that perfect wave when they see it!