For years leadership was based upon the concept of control. It was designed to be effective in the Industrial Revolution. All that has changed! An author recently stated “in organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capabilities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.”
People are now the central focus of leadership. If you want to become a strong leader you must understand people. Influence is the approach that works in today’s complex environment – whether it is a business organization or a not-for-profit – or something in-between. Add flexibility, vision and determination and you have the most important characteristics of a leader.
Influence is complex. It is based upon many assets, both internal and external. You develop many of these characteristics early in your career, and then continue to enhance them. Your environment creates other assets which, although external to you, have a great deal to do with how things work. There are no cram courses that you can take to immediately create these assets – or to change them. They are developed and earned day-by-day.
Flexibility is your willingness and ability to do whatever the situation dictates. It includes considering options other than how things have previously been done. It requires taking input from a multitude of sources, and determining what is the most appropriate. By its very nature it signifies change; the one constant that all leaders face today. Because of the matrix nature of most organizations, even leaders who are CEOs at times may be team leaders, managers or even simply members of teams. Leaders must be effective in a multitude of roles, and to do so, must continue learning and developing new skills.
Vision is the ability to “see what needs to be done” given the situation, and determination is the willingness to do whatever it takes to make it happen. When you can identify and communicate what is important, establish a plan, then begin working to accomplish it, others will follow. Having previously been successful creates a level of credibility, and results in others believing in what you are doing.
In today’s culture, this is the reality of leadership. Is this an environment that you are comfortable in? If not, better quickly become so. Should you consider hiring a coach to help you with this journey?