In good times and more challenging times, leaders have to lead. There are four commitments a leader needs to make to effectively lead.
People who work in organization want to know “where are we headed, what is our goal.” It is the responsibility of the leader to determine the goal and to regularly and clearly communicate it. The leader who fails to create a vision is doing a disservice to those who work in the organization. If there is no goal, what is the future? What is the focus? Why toil to uncertainty except for a paycheck? People want to work towards something and for something that is bigger than themselves and the leader must provide this vision.
The wisest leaders understand that they would never ask their subordinates to do something that they would not be willing to do themselves. In the movie “Saving Private Ryan” Captain Miller, played by Tom Hanks, earned and kept the respect of his men because he landed with them on
The leader cannot hide behind the desk, isolated in the office. Those that lead must not only be visible, but must communicate to those they lead. Chief among the responsibilities of leadership is to ask what people think. What are they seeing and experiencing within the company? How can we do the job better? The leader is often the most removed from clients, suppliers and employees, so seeking opinions of others is critical to learning. Tied to this is listening with intentionality to what is being said. Many leaders hear but don’t listen. Leaders must actively listen, seeking first to understand, then be understood. There is a quote that serves leaders well: “People should know what you stand for. They should also know won’t you won’t stand for."
The leader must be open, willing and ready to become better - as a person and as a leader. This is done by growing, by being open to new ideas and concepts, and by being open to coaching by others. Someone who has a closed mind, who believes that they know all there is to know, is not a leader who will take any organization far. Being in charge and being open to growth does not stop with the person at the top. The responsibility of leadership means that the person at the top should be requiring the same commitment to growth from their direct reports. If those reporting to the top executive aren’t interesting in growing, what kind of message do those people send to those in their departments or divisions?
Sandy McMahon’s concepts are right on target. Being a senior executive is not a plateau. It is a continuous journey and its direction is determined by just how good a leader you are.
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