Sunday, September 4, 2011

Leadership Development Methods and Tips- Communication Skills

Explaining and understanding the nature of good leadership is probably easier than practicing it. Good leadership requires deep human qualities, beyond conventional notions of authority.
In the modern age good leaders are an enabling force, helping people and organizations to perform and develop, which implies that a sophisticated alignment be achieved - of people's needs, and the aims of the organization.
The traditional concept of a leader being the directing chief at the top of a hierarchy is nowadays a very incomplete appreciation of what true leadership must be.
Effective leadership does not necessarily require great technical or intellectual capacity. These attributes might help, but they are not pivotal.
Good leadership in the modern age more importantly requires attitudes and behaviors which characterize and relate to humanity.
The concept of serving is fundamental to the leadership role. Good leadership involves serving the organization or group and the people within it. Ineffective leaders tend to invert this principle and consider merely that the leader must be served by the people. This faulty idea fosters the notion that leadership as an opportunity to take: to acquire personal status, advantage, gain, etc., at the expense of others, which is grossly wrong. Leadership is instead an opportunity to give; to serve the organization, and crucially the people too. The modern notions of 'servant leader' and 'servant leadership' are attributed to Robert K Greenleaf (in his 1970 essay The Servant as Leader) however the philosophy and concept of leadership being a serving function rather than one that is served, is very old indeed and found in ancient civilizations and religious writings.
Leadership is centrally concerned with people. Of course leadership involves decisions and actions relating to all sorts of other things, but leadership is special compared to any other role because of its unique responsibility for people - i.e., the followers of the leader - in whatever context leadership is seen to operate.
Many capabilities in life are a matter of acquiring skills and knowledge and then applying them in a reliable way. Leadership is quite different. Good leadership demands emotional strengths and behavioral characteristics which can draw deeply on a leader's mental and spiritual reserves.
The leadership role is an inevitable reflection of people's needs and challenges in modern life. Leadership is therefore a profound concept, with increasingly complex implications, driven by an increasingly complex and fast-changing world.
Leadership and management are commonly seen as the same thing, which they are not. Leadership is also misunderstood to mean directing and instructing people and making important decisions on behalf of an organization. Effective leadership is much more than these.
Good leaders are followed chiefly because people trust and respect them, rather than the skills they possess. Leadership is about behavior first, skills second.
This is a simple way to see how leadership is different to management:
• Management is mostly about processes.
• Leadership is mostly about behavior.
We could extend this to say:
• Management relies heavily on tangible measurable capabilities such as effective planning; the use of organizational systems; and the use of appropriate communications methods.
• Leadership involves many management skills, but generally as a secondary or background function of true leadership. Leadership instead relies most strongly on less tangible and less measurable things like trust, inspiration, attitude, decision-making, and personal character. These are not processes or skills or even necessarily the result of experience. They are facets of humanity, and are enabled mainly by the leader's character and especially his/her emotional reserves.
Another way to see leadership compared with management is that leadership does not crucially depend on the type of management methods and processes a leaders uses; leadership instead primarily depends on the ways in which the leader uses management methods and processes.
Good leadership depends on attitudinal qualities, not management processes.
Humanity is a way to describe these qualities, because this reflects the leader's vital relationship with people.
Qualities critical for a leader's relationship with his/her people is quite different to conventional skills and processes:
Examples of highly significant leadership qualities
• integrity
• honesty
• humility
• courage
• commitment
• sincerity
• passion
• confidence
• positivity
• wisdom
• determination
• compassion
• sensitivity
People with these sorts of behaviors and attitudes tend to attract followers. Followers are naturally drawn to people who exhibit strength and can inspire belief in others. These qualities tend to produce a charismatic effect. Charisma tends to result from effective leadership and the qualities which enable effective leadership. Charisma is by itself no guarantee of effective leadership.
Some people are born more naturally to leadership than others. Most people don't seek to be a leader, but many more people are able to lead, in one way or another and in one situation or another, than they realize.
People who want to be a leader can develop leadership ability. Leadership is not the exclusive preserve of the wealthy and educated.
Leadership is a matter of personal conviction and believing strongly in a cause or aim, whatever it is.
Leadership sometimes comes to people later in life, and this is no bad thing. Humanity tends to be generational characteristic. There is no real obstacle to people who seek to become leaders if leadership is approached with proper integrity. Anyone can be a leader if he/she is suitably driven to a particular cause.
And many qualities of effective leadership, like confidence and charisma, continue to grow from experience in the leadership role. Even initially surprised modest leaders can become great ones, and sometimes the greatest ones.
Leadership can be performed with different styles. Some leaders have one style, which is right for certain situations and wrong for others. Some leaders can adapt and use different leadership styles for given situations.
Adaptability of style is an increasingly significant aspect of leadership, because the world is increasingly complex and dynamic. Adaptability stems from objectivity, which in turn stems from emotional security and emotional maturity. Again these strengths are not dependent on wealth or education, or skills or processes.
Good leaders typically have a keen understanding of relationships within quite large and complex systems and networks. This may be from an intuitive angle, or a technical/learned angle, or both.
A very useful way to explore this crucial aspect of leadership with respect to wider relationships and systems is offered by the Psychological Contract and how that theory relates to organizations and leadership.
People new to leadership (and supervision and management) often feel under pressure to lead in a particularly dominant way. Sometimes this pressure on a new leader to impose their authority on the team comes from above. Dominant leadership is rarely appropriate however, especially for mature teams. Misreading this situation and attempting to be overly dominant, can then cause problems for a new leader. Resistance from the team becomes a problem, and a cycle of negative behaviors and reducing performance begins. Much of leadership is counter-intuitive. Leadership is often more about serving than leading. Besides which, individuals and teams tend not to resist or push against something in which they have a strong involvement/ownership/sense of control. People tend to respond well to thanks, encouragement, recognition, inclusiveness, etc. Tough, overly dominant leadership gives teams a lot to push against and resist. It also prevents a sense of ownership and self-control among the people being led. And it also inhibits the positive rewards and incentives (thanks, recognition, encouragement, etc) vital for teams and individuals to cope with change, and to enjoy themselves. Leaders of course need to be able to make tough decisions when required, but most importantly leaders should concentrate on enabling the team to thrive, which is actually a 'serving' role, not the dominant 'leading' role commonly associated with leadership.
Today ethical leadership is more important than ever. The world is more transparent and connected than it has ever been. The actions and philosophies of organizations are scrutinized by the media and the general public as never before. This coincides with massively increased awareness and interest among people everywhere in corporate responsibility and the many related concepts, such as social and community responsibility (see the ethical leadership and ethical organizations page). The modern leader needs to understand and aspire to leading people and achieving greatness in all these areas.
Here is (was..) an Excellent 30 minute BBC Radio 4 Discussion about Modern Leadership - (first broadcast 2 Sept 2006, part of the 'Sound Advice' series). Its mere existence is evidence of changed attitudes to leadership. Such a program would not have warranted BBC airtime a generation ago due to lack of audience interest. Today there is huge awareness of, and interest in, more modern leadership methods. The radio discussion highlighted the need for effective modern leaders to have emotional strength and sensitivity, far beyond traditional ideas of more limited autocratic leadership styles. I'm sorry (if still) this linked item is unavailable from the BBC website, especially if the recording is lost forever in the BBC's archives. If you know a suitably influential executive at the Beeb, who can liberate it please contact me.
Incidentally as a quick case-study, the BBC illustrates an important aspect of leadership, namely philosophy.
Philosophy (you could call it 'fundamental purpose') is the foundation on which to build strategy, management, operational activities, and pretty well everything else that happens in an organization.
Whatever the size of the organization, operational activities need to be reconcilable with a single congruent (fitting, harmonious) philosophy.
Executives, managers, staff, customers, suppliers, stakeholders, etc., need solid philosophical principles (another term would be a 'frame of reference') on which to base their expectations, decisions and actions. In a vast complex organization like the BBC, leadership will be very challenging at the best of times due to reasons of size, diversity, political and public interest, etc. Having a conflicting philosophy dramatically increases these difficulties for everyone, not least the leader, because the frame of reference is confusing.
For leadership to work well, people (employees and interested outsiders) must be able to connect their expectations, aims and activities to a basic purpose or philosophy of the organization. This foundational philosophy should provide vital reference points for employees' decisions and actions - an increasingly significant factor in modern 'empowered' organizations. Seeing a clear philosophy and purpose is also essential for staff, customers and outsiders in assessing crucial organizational characteristics such as integrity, ethics, fairness, quality and performance. A clear philosophy is vital to the 'psychological contract' - whether stated or unstated (almost always unstated) - on which people (employees, customers or observers) tend to judge their relationships and transactions.
The BBC is an example (it's not the only one) of an organization which has a confusing organizational philosophy. At times it is inherently conflicting. For example: Who are its owners? Who are its customers? What are its priorities and obligations? Are its commercial operations a means to an end, or an end in them? Is its main aim to provide commercial mainstream entertainment, or non-commercial education and information? Is it a public service, or is it a commercial provider? Will it one day be privatized in part or whole? If so will this threaten me or benefit me? As an employee am I sharing in something, or being exploited? As a customer (if the description is apt) am I also an owner? Or am I funding somebody else's gravy train? What are the organization's obligations to the state and to government?
Given such uncertainties, not only is there a very unclear basic philosophy and purpose, but also, it's very difficult to achieve consistency for leadership messages to staff and customers. Also, how can staff and customers align their efforts and expectations with such confusing aims and principles?
The BBC is just an example. There are many organizations, large and small, with conflicting and confusing fundamental aims. The lesson is that philosophy - or underpinning purpose - is the foundation on which leadership (for strategy, management, motivation, everything) is built. If the foundation is not solid and viable, and is not totally congruent with what follows, then everything built onto it is prone to wobble, and at times can fall over completely.
Get the philosophy right - solid and in harmony with the activities - and the foundation is strong.
Again, the Psychological Contract provides a helpful perspective for aligning people and organizational philosophy.
This of course gives rise to the question of what to do if you find yourself leading a team or organization which lacks clarity of fundamental philosophy and purpose, and here lies an inescapable difference between managing and leading:
As a leader your responsibility extends beyond leading the people. True leadership also includes - as far as your situation allows - the responsibility to protect or refine fundamental purpose and philosophy.
See also the notes and processes for incorporating fundamental philosophy within strategic business development and marketing.

Source: › leadership/management-05.09.2011

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