Do your Leaders, at every level, have the skills needed to take your organization from good to great?
Developing successful leaders goes beyond the trite manager versus leader debate so often heard. It really doesn’t matter what their title is, if they have people who report to them and have responsibility for delivering results, then they need specific skills. I wanted to see which skills were listed as critical to any leader’s success; so I did an exhaustive search of the literature, ok so maybe it was only a few hours of research…but exhausting nonetheless! My findings surprised me! The list of skills was so very long. What did not surprise me were the top 7 skills and traits that were listed time and time again as the most important from a variety of sources.
While there are many skills and traits that make up a strong leader, the following were cited repeatedly as critical to a leader’s success. Whether in healthcare, finance, politics or sports, make sure your leaders are excellent:
Communicators: The ability to convey a message clearly, accurately, succinctly and efficiently whether in a one on one conversation, in a group setting or via email or social media. Keep the team members fully informed. Employees want to feel in on things, the only way to do that is through communication.
Strategic Thinkers: Having a big vision and big stretch goals. Knowing where you are, where you want to go and a clear strategy on how to get there.
Motivators: Understanding intrinsic motivators of the people who follow. Ability to inspire the team to be all they can be and more.
Collaborators: They build great relationships, build teams from within one’s own group and throughout the organization. A networker focused on understanding best practice.
Role models for honesty and integrity: They talk the talk while walking the walk. They have people believe in them and buy in to the journey they are on. They follow through on commitments.
Critical Thinkers: They often challenge the status quo, do things differently and have the courage to think outside the box and share their thoughts.
Have high EQ. They are emotionally intelligent: self- aware, able to control their emotions, manage relationships well, empathetic and internally motivated.
So, how do you rate on these skills? How about your leadership team?
I was very happy to see an article in the Harvard Business Review which mirrored my findings. So if you prefer research with a much larger database, below are the findings of Zenger and Folkman. Regardless of whose top 7 you look at, if your Leaders are exemplifying these traits and skills, then you are on the right track.
If you would like to further develop your Leadership Team use these steps:
1. Identify the knowledge level, skills, talents and attitudes (KSTA’s) you want every leader on your team to possess. What skills will be needed to bring your organization to the next level of excellence.
2. Articulate these clearly and in writing with the help of some of your star performers
3. Create a matrix and assign a numeric value to the ability levels of these KSTA’s
4. Assess your entire Leadership Team
5. Create a development plan for each Leader with target dates
6. Meet with them at least quarterly to specifically discuss their progress on their plan
There are many Leadership models out there for you to follow if you need additional guidance. In my next blog, I will focus on The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. Until then, please share the top skills you look for and nurture in your Leadership Team. I look forward to your comments.
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