Recent conversations with top leaders on the recent three weekly Leadership Platform Shows on CliffCentral illuminated various attributes that leaders need in order to be successful in the modern environment, especially in South and the rest of Africa. From our experience books can be written on each of the attributes mentioned in the list below.
The focus of this article, however, is on the roots of the mentioned attributes. These kinds of leadership attributes do not just arrive on a sunny morning and allow us to take possession of them. They are the consequences of dedicated efforts over the years to be leader fit.
The guests on the three Leadership Platform Shows on 20 July 2015 were strong and proven leaders in their own right – Dan Rockwell (International thought leader); Yunus Suleman (Chairperson of Enactus); Robin Perks (Aperture Group and CEO Expand Africa); Mike Thiel (experienced school principal); and Taryn Sydow (CEO Optimal Coaching).
Some of the attributes that were mentioned were the following:
Focus on positive energy, engagement, respect, adaptability, humbleness, listening, challenging of status quo, accountability with choice, courage (business in Africa is not for sissies), and innovation.
The quest for roots
It is an inspirational practice to look for the roots of the attributes of seamless leadership that enable leaders to do what others may consider to be the impossible.
As the guests on our shows spoke about the needs of leaders to be successful in the Africa environment (including RSA), those present could sense the tangible trust that these leaders embraced in the values that were the root of the attributes mentioned. These were leaders that practiced what they preached and the roots of their confidence are firmly established in the values that they believe in.
In our quest to understand the roots of seamless leadership, let us for a moment examine the above list as a list of believed values, rather than simply a box ticking exercise.
Focus on positive energy. For us to do this requires a sense of respect for the universal governance of the positive over the negative in our self and in others. A lack of such respect of whom and what we are makes it extremely difficult to default to respect for the positive energy in others.
Engagement. The guests were passionate in their commitment to engage people and situations, instead of making judgments before closing the loop. It reflects a simple value that is taught in all religions around the world of not making hasty judgments without the full picture and context. Things change when we engage.
Respect. A genuine respect for others as opposed to a rootless flattery approach is based on a respect for the dignity, potential and contribution of our self. Respect for self is the foundation of our ability to respect others.
Adaptability. Leaders agree that the modern environment has so many challenges and dynamic influences that we need the ability to adapt, often to adapt quickly and decisively. It is interesting to note that those people who are firmly rooted in believed values (that do not change with the wind) are best equipped to adapt to the changing environment. If a leader does not have a trusted value set to fall back on, he or she may find changes and resilience extremely difficult to handle.
Humbleness may be defined in various ways. To some the attribute of humility is seen as a weakness. To great leaders who are servant oriented, being teachable is a passionate value that drives them all their lives.
Listening. Listening is a skill that the majority of top leaders we come in contact with value greatly. It is by listening that wisdom is rubbed off, that we receive the fuller context of situations, and that we engage and build relationships. Proper listening requires a high level of emotional intelligence. The more I embrace who and what I am, the more likely I am to listen to who and what others are.
Challenging the status quo. It takes a value driven person to have the courage to constantly challenge the status quo and to reach for new heights, depths, widths and contexts in situations. It is an obvious truth that we cannot improve situations if we keep on doing it the same way as before.
To be leader fit is an imperative of the modern leader if he or she wants to fulfil their leadership destiny. We need to invest daily in being mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually fit if we want to build the foundation of character and strategy that seamless leadership requires. Being leader fit adds a tremendous dimension to our ability to manifest the attributes of good leadership mentioned in this article.
Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Louis on Louis@leadershipplatform.com for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation.