By Goke Ilesanmi
Effective leadership results in great organisations that have reputation for productivity and profitability. Leadership is about piloting an organisation into the future by discovering and utilising available opportunities. It is not an exaggeration to conclude that only few organisations have effective leaders today despite the fact that effective leadership is greatly needed from more and more people, irrespective of where they are in the organisational hierarchy. It is wrong to say some extraordinary people at the top can offer all the necessary leadership needed today in an organisation.
Little wonder that Dr. John P. Kotter, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School says people use the term “leadership” to refer to the people at the very top of hierarchies. Kotter expatiates that people then call those in layers below top people in an organisation “management” and all the rest “workers”. This is a mistake and misleading, he educates.
Possession and articulation of vision
One of the secrets of becoming a great leader is to have vision. Best leaders not only assign tasks or monitor performance. They plan for the future and motivate others to see the same vision so that they can all work hard to accomplish desired results. Ara Norwood, managing partner at Leadership Development Systems says leaders should articulate their vision with zeal. Norwood adds that the followers involved in the conversation should be clear that the leader maintains very deep feelings of excitement, commitment, belief – even a sense of urgency and determination about the vision in question. The leader who converses with intensity about his or her vision tends to motivate followers who adopt his or her vision as their own and voluntarily sign on to see the vision realised. Kotter reinforces this by saying leadership is about vision, about people buying in and about empowerment.
Emotional intelligence is another quality critical to effective corporate leadership. It is about analysing your strengths and weaknesses. Many organisations collapse today because most of them base their recruitment on intelligence quotient (IQ), which only reveals intellectual competence; not on emotional intelligence. The disadvantage of employing based on IQ is that behavioural deficiencies cannot be detected. The fact that somebody is intellectually sound does not mean he or she will be a good team player or will be emotionally or morally sound. It is easier to train somebody to become (more) intellectually sound than to train him or her to change his or her behaviour or emotion.
So if you employ a manager that is very brilliant but has bad temperament, your organisation will pay for it because his or her lack of emotional intelligence may lead to high employee turnover. This will make you incur unnecessary costs in terms of frequent distortion of your operations due to employees’ sack or resignation, regular placement of advertisement to fill vacant positions, etc.
It is not surprising that Daniel Goleman, author of “Emotional Intelligence” says truly effective leaders are distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skill. Goleman adds that though emotional intelligence may sound “soft” and un-business-like, there is a direct connection between it and measurable business results. Research shows that Abraham Lincoln was a successful president because he was a great emotional manager.
Excellent communication skills
Leaders also need to engage in conversations with curiosity and capability. Peter Bregman, author of “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done” says leaders need to be gifted communicators and gifted learners, mastering conflict without being offensive, and adapting to their own changing roles as the organisation grows. Great leaders encourage collaborative communication and empower their followers to contribute to conversations without feeling embarrassed or intimidated.
Gayle Lantz, co-author of “Irresistible Leadership” stresses that managers who lack opportunities to listen to the issues expressed by team members, can create opportunities through regular conversations. In short, the issue of leadership has become more important today. This is why “3rd School Prefects Leadership Summit” is being organised for students in Lagos this November. I am the guest speaker and Governor Babatunde Fashola chief host.
Risk-taking and overall goal
Leaders also need to have the courage to take risks. They must be willing to accommodate almost anything meaningful, including constructive criticism. This requires a tremendous amount of confidence, the kind of confidence that allows them to be questioned by others, even accept blame without becoming defensive.
Leaders must put the good of the company above their own personal agenda. Monique Valcour, professor of Management at EDHEC Business School in France says a leader needs to keep focus on what his or her team or organisation is trying to achieve and how each person can effectively contribute to those results. They need to ask people what would help boost their (the people’s) ability to achieve desired work results while also increasing their well-being beyond work. When employees are involved in designing and implementing solutions, their commitment to making them work becomes strong.
Humility is also one of the greatest qualities of good leaders. In Luke 22:26-27, Jesus stressed the need for leaders to be servants. This is humility. And we still have leaders that are very humble. A leader like Governor Fashola radiates a high level of humility to the extent that he and his entourage silently go about without deafening residents with sirens. There is also another leader that surprises me with his reservoir of humility. While many top public officers prefer to ignore calls of people, including calls of people close to them, he will even call you when you send a text message to him. He is Engineer Segun Oni, former governor of my home state of Ekiti. Dr. Mai Fatty, Leader of The Gambia Moral Congress Party, a major opposition party, is also a perfect example of a humble leader. After meeting at a business summit in Germany some time ago, I was surprised that he could come to Nigeria to pay me a visit despite his age and position.
Leadership is very critical to success in any endeavour. Therefore, organisations that are thirsty for enduring success must go for great leaders to achieve corporate results.
Till we meet on Wednesday.
GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Certified Public Speaker/MC, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Career Management Coach. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
Tel: 08055068773; 08187499425