What do we expect of our leaders in business, politics or in our communities? We want them to be able to exhibit effective organisation skills and communicate their vision and ideas, but are these enough to gain our support and trust?
I first wrote about effective leadership in August 2007
and thought it was time, five months later, to revisit the subject again. Leaders
must inspire us to follow their lead. How do they do this and ensure that they
don’t lose a few of us on the way? Well they can lead by example and earn our
respect through their actions and the goals they achieve, but are these enough? Are
we increasingly demand more?
Organisations have become more brand centred rather than leader orientated over recent decades. Corporate and brand equity has developed based on developing trust in the organisations, goods and services rather than people who run those organisations. National and international brands such as Ford, Cadbury’s, Rowntrees, Fry’s, Sainsbury’s, were originally built from a leader’s or even a family vision. They now have a corporate vision developed by a corporate body that is seeking to meet stakeholder as well as shareholder needs. These needs at times may be mutually exclusive and provide a source of conflict for our leaders that need to be resolved. Our leaders are now required to accrue social, human, and natural capital as well as the more traditional financial and capital asset base.
There is a growing demand for our global and local organisations to demonstrate that they, the people that lead them and the products and services they provide are transparent, reliable and worthy of our trust. There is also an increasing demand for our leaders to be positive, real and authentic and deliver solutions that are robust and long lasting, rather than short-term and populist. We want to know who our leaders are and why they are worthy of our support, we want actions and delivery rather than hollow words and sound bites. This demand will be driven more and more as we expect our leaders to address the long term social and global environmental issues that face us.
So what is effective leadership? I believe that effective leadership is understanding where you are and where you need to be and being able to carry all those around you on the crest of the wave until you all safely reach the shore.