In a leadership position your staff will be looking to you as a role model. Ideally you will be someone who inspires others to be proud of their achievements. Someone who guides and supports people to enjoy the journey as well as the end goal. Martin Luther King was a leader who inspired me as a young woman when I was first setting up my own business and I, like many others, have never forgotten his ‘I have a dream’ speech. Martin Luther King spoke from the heart, he was totally authentic and demonstrated the 8 qualities when modelling leadership.
As a leader of your department or organisation people will be looking to you to make authentic connections. To foster strong relationships so people feel trusted, valued and able to share their own vulnerability. If you are also a leader in a coaching role you will be familiar with standing back from issues and seeing the bigger picture. You will be that person who is slightly in the background, understands how to empower others and who everyone is aware of. A person with solid principles, clear vision and shared purpose.
A leader who in addition to the essential 8 qualities when modelling leadership can be:
- trusted and inspires trust
- consistent in dealing with people
- supportive of mistakes
- a motivator of others
- someone who takes time to listen
- someone who gives unconditional praise
- a visionary and communicate it
- able to delegate effectively
- influential and decisive
- someone who manages expectations and disapointments
- pro-active and energises others
In their book Power up: Transforming organisations through shared leadership, authors David Bradford & Allan Cohen argue that a new model of shared leadership has grown even more essential in today’s markets. They write:
‘In assuming overall responsibility for the results of their units, leaders over-manage their subordinates. When issues are discussed the topics are carefully restricted; the leader consults with subordinates when it seems appropriate but has the last say on critical decisions. This causes the subordinates to constrict their focus to their own areas, blame others, pass responsibility up to the boss and protect their flanks. Observing this the leader thinks ‘Just as I expected, those people cannot accept responsibility or do more than stick to their own assignments.’
This observation results in still greater control, which induces even greater passivity in employees. The boss doesn’t want us to take responsibility’ they conclude ‘so we’ll only do what we’re told’
Shared leadership approaches don’t eliminate the leader’s role or abandon hierarchy. You as a leader still remain accountable for a group’s performance and you will need to make many final decisions. But when modelling leadership you and your direct reports now need to collaborate more openly and frequently in the management of a business unit. This is where the coaching approach can help to foster this more consultative and open path to leadership.
It is also necessary to recognise that not all individuals will want to be leaders. As a leader you also need to spot and support those individuals who have great skills, sound work ethic, abilities to accept and solve problems, yet do not have the desire to take on a leadership role.
Being able to recognise when and where training is necessary and guiding people to enhance their own personal growth is all part of good leadership.
It is my belief that outstanding leaders have these 8 qualities when modelling leadership:
- Passion – a love of what you do and the ability to put this over
- Courage – you “feel the fear and do it anyway”
- Humility – know that you are only as good as your own people
- Perseverance – where there’s a will there’s a way
- Compassion – treat others with respect and kindness
- Forgiveness – forgive and allow people to learn by their mistakes
- Patience – both with yourselves and with others
- Strong values –For example: authentic, trustworthy, honest, reliable, committed, consultative & loyal.
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Someone as a true role model who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way.