Leadership Development – is leadership doing or being?

Posted on August 15, 2013 by Aidan

Leadership DevelopmentWorking in Leadership Development as I do, I find a lot of material on leadership skills. There are countless advisors pointing out what leaders need to do – top ten of this, top ten of that, the five most important the other. A lot of this information is correct and well intended too but most of this is about what a leader must “do” to become  successful. Little of it is about who to “be”.

There have been a number of Leadership models over the years, some of which now look ridiculous in the light of modern psychology and some which would never have worked leading people who have a strong sense of self and view of life  and completely reject the “I told you so” philosophy. Generations such as X, Y and the Millenials need to clearly see the vision and to trust their leaders to become engaged with the goals of the organisation. This is particularly true of knowledge workers, where the core knowledge and key competencies of the organisation are in their hands.

Many leaders at the top of organisations or leaders who are in charge of large teams are task oriented, and often they love a list to tick off to feel they are moving forward. Its all do do do – “Today I will make sure I will do some trust building exercises with my people”, and “tomorrow I will act more Authentic.” I am reminded of the old line  about sincerity … “The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.”

Leadership Development -Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Brand

I have found over the years that good leadership development results come from working at the core  – so that improving it means working from the inside out. Working on Emotional Intelligence is one part of this – and improves leadership through awareness of the  emotional environment, awareness of the needs of others and the ability to connect with people on an emotional level. This is necessary to lead others and to gain the trust required, particularly for difficult times.

Leadership development should also focus on leadership brand,  a second key facet, which is the leader understanding what they represent and being true to that. This has been coined “leadership brand” and is something very important to followers – “What is this person about?” “Can I trust them?” “Are they all about the results or do they care about me?” “How do I know?” “Is what they say consistent with what they do?”

The pathway to success in leadership is therefore for the Leader to “Walk the Talk” to “Become” rather than to “Get” and to “Be” rather than to “Do”.

Aidan Higgins