What are the traits that define strong, robust leadership?
This is a frustrating phenomenon to analyze, why?, because this aspect of leadership is extremely difficult if not impossible to quantify. Followers know if strong leadership is there but they are seldom able to predict if someone will be a strong leader or not.
The Role of Leadership
Leaders can see beyond their experiences.
Nothing serves a group or organization better than leadership. This is especially true in times of trouble when people are uncertain of their future and are troubled by doubt.
Leaders who know exactly what they want, are unbending in the commitment to and the communication of those wants, and who empower the workforce, have been unsurpassed in human history as the catalyst to move organizations to a better place.
Four Vital Actions of Strong Leaders
- The first thing leaders do is to define the new reality. The last thing they do is say thank you. The organization does the rest with the leader on the sidelines as a coach.
- Leaders go where others have not gone before. They create new works of art, not mass-produced paint by number sets where people just have to stay within the lines. Organizations depend on their vision because they are the ones who change the ways of seeing things.
- Leaders step in to prevent the formal systems from dominating the human systems. Formal systems should be enabling but more often than not are not. They dominate. Change efforts need to be free from the tyranny of the existing processes and the bureaucratic interests of those involved. Effective change is the personal responsibility of a leader.
- They hold firm under stress. They refrain from stepping in and demonstrating top management rather than group leadership. This prevents the rule making and legislation cycle from starting all over again.
What Strong Leadership Creates
A cohesive experienced team is a competitive advantage. The achievement of that state rests with the quality of the leadership. Leadership is a team sport.
Effective leadership is not about controlling from the top but letting loose the power of the people.
Few organizations can really see into the fog of the future much better than their competitors. This means their advantage is the people and a supporting structure that can react faster than others.
In a world of rapid change, organizations can expect to be surprised regularly. With good leadership that is distributed throughout an efficient structure, the response time to these surprises is faster.
The Transformation Process
The transformation must be grounded in action that is positive, aggressive, guided by vision, and consistent with the values of the organization. This is action that people can see and understand. A leader makes good things happen and keeps bad things from happening. Consistency propels this change.
When people sense consistency in their leadership they develop the sense of security about themselves that gives them the courage to experiment with changes they would not normally attempt.
Staying the Course
It is leadership that maintains the level of passion in the organization and prevents it from mutating back into the procedures and rules that can rob its spirit. Purpose is maintained instead of drifting to a focus on policies. The organization is never allowed to forget that it is emerging into a world in which group skills and networking ability are paramount.
Going forward, senior management time will be refocused on genuine leadership functions, not administration. This focus will lead to more openness and greatly reduced paperwork, memos, political maneuvering, and self-justification. Organizations will see more self-confidence that in turn will remove the need for empires.