by Anneli Thomson, Managing Director, Sandler Training
The subject of leadership is more of a topic for many of our clients as opposed to management. It reveals a new awakening for many people who want to adjust how they guide their organisations to greater success. Leadership is a tricky topic because there is a distinct line between it and the traditional management role. My personal observation when working with leaders versus managers is their ability to know themselves first, as well as their people. They are in touch with both in a way that is completely different from the management role.
Many a leadership expert notes that vision is a key element for leadership, however most are not born with the innate gift but it is rather a learned skill. What does one need to work on to build their visionary abilities? The answer could easily fill several books and it’s important that we be able to look at ourselves and know to what degree we have it and what we need to expand it.
Leaders see the big picture. Many managers see the immediate and the things that will achieve goals in the next days, weeks, and months. Leaders go beyond the immediate and think in terms of years. They master the context of time and make the purpose of their people and the organisation bigger than is obvious and engage others to get behind it.
Maybe most important, they know themselves. Most leaders watch themselves closely and are aware of what they do and how it affects others. Learning from mistakes is often the greatest gift that guides great leaders. They don’t hide from their mistakes but use them to help others. Mistakes allow them to forge new paths that may have been missed if they hadn’t learned a lesson from the experience. Adapting to these changes is the very essence of leadership.
Most leaders are competent communicators. That is different than being a great orator. I have noted hundreds of times that regardless of the role or situation, when things go badly, typically the root of the problem is poor communication. How many times have we intended one thing and it’s been received very differently. Clear communication is the mark of a true leader. They take the time to talk, to ask questions, to listen, and to understand. It is a skill that must be learned if you want to be a leader.