The stories of successful leaders have always attracted people. Not only do their examples make for an inspirational story, but also help you learn how to deal with a certain situation. Few people try to solve their problems by choosing the methods used by successful leaders. Now, this may not always work because the situation that they were in, might have demanded a specific step and the answer to your problem may be completely different. It is good to have a few successful leaders to look up to, but just replicating their solutions will not always help you.
Not all successful leaders have followed the same path. In fact, most of them tasted success because they dared to think differently and took the road less traveled. Good leaders have the ability to not just look into their own work, but also that of the ones working for them. Linda Hill, who is a professor at Harvard Business School says that a leader who cannot manage his or her own work, cannot succeed in being a team player. Linda has also co-written a book named ‘Being the Boss’, which talks about the essential qualities that leaders must possess to become successful.
It is never one or two qualities, but a combination of them which makes people evolve as successful leaders. Of course, there are a few must-haves that make leaders successful. Effective leadership is not about following the prescribed success mantras, but about discovering what can give you the results you want. Say a certain situation might require you to focus on the core operations, but another one may call for looking into the various aspects involved in it. This explains that there is no one universal rule that you can follow to achieve success as a leader. However, if you are looking for the key elements that make a successful leader, here they are:
- Solving issues with integrative thinking
- Overcoming barriers to change
- Using your power effectively
Why is it essential for a successful leader to be an integrative thinker?
Given the neck to neck competition that businesses face these days, it has become essential for leaders to take quick yet smart decisions. They do not have the option of pondering over the issue. What they are expected to do is think of a solution, communicate it with the team in detail and work in correspondence to overcome the road bump. However, this is not a simple task and is likely to lead to a lot of tension, which can hinder your decision-making ability. You will be able to solve the problem, if you apply the theory of integrative thinking to it, which is the process of taking a decision based on reasoning, understanding of the issue as well as intuition.
The concept was created by the dean of Rotmon School of Management (the University of Toronto), Roger Martin. The mindset of a leader who is an integrative thinker will certainly differ from that of a conventional one. An integrative thinker will actually take the effort to create innovative solutions, rather than just stick to the ones used in the past. He/she will not be intimidated by the complexity of the issue. In fact, that is what will attract him/her and push them into coming up with an effective solution.
Change is constant.
As said earlier, the market is ever so changing. No matter how many policies you have in place to keep things under control, every now and then you will certainly face challenging situations. As an integrative thinker, you will, in fact, love tackling these challenges as they will make your job much more exciting.
When things get dull and routine, work may seem boring. Your employees may not love the idea of doing the same thing over and over. In such cases, bringing in a little change in their work can help them. It will also give them an opportunity to learn new areas of work. Now, whether your employees like it or not they will have to face change constantly – in the form of handling projects, guidelines, clients, organizational changes and so on. These are inevitable. So instead of having your team members cringe over the thought of opening to something new, explain to them how the changes serve as opportunities to display their skills.
Also, to change the way in which things are working, you will first have to begin with yourself. If you as a leader do not motivate your employees, you cannot expect them to show amazing results. Implementing changes regularly will prevent your teammates from feeling trapped in their roles and will give them a chance to polish their skills in other areas too.
Effective use of power.
With leadership comes immense duties and powers. It is your duty to keep your team motivated and to listen to the issues that your teammates might be facing. Also, it is you who has the power to solve their problems. Often leaders do not understand where to draw the line while using their powers – some do not use them enough and some just overuse them. An important element of effective leadership is to learn how to use your powers in a balanced manner. You wouldn’t want your teammates to feel that you are unnecessarily exercising your powers, or that you are hardly helping them.
Just because you have certain powers, you do not get the liberty to be unempathetic towards your team members. To ensure that you are effectively using your powers as a leader, you can begin by listing the various times when you have used different powers that have been given to you. These powers can vary in nature, they can be – legitimate, coercive, referent, expert powers and so on. Also, never forget to think from the point of view of the other party. It will help you balance your decision and be fair in your role as a leader.