Creating Inclusive, Transformational Leaders
Over the past decade I have interviewed over 100 effective and inspiring leaders prior to, and subsequent to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) about what enabled them to transform their organisations and actively engage their people, in both the good times and more challenging times. These leaders have been from different industries and organisations; and what my analysis has shown is that they share twelve identifiable characteristics that have shaped their transformational leadership.
1. CHANGE ENABLERS
To lead any change effectively requires a high level of self-awareness, and being comfortable with change at both a personal andprofessional level. Good leaders possess the influencing skills necessary to convince sceptical people of the need for real, sustainable change – creating something new, rather than building solutions on a foundation of past successes and behaviours.
2. COLLABORATIVE INCLUSIVE
Organisations which encourage collaboration rather than internal competition and silos, have been found to be significantly more productive. Good leaders carry organisations forward through acts of team empowerment and inclusion, rather than corporate heroism.
3. OPEN HONEST COMMUNICATION, FOCUSSED ON LISTENING
Listening is one of the most important characteristics of a good leader. Understanding the aspirationsof each team member and the reasons for their aspirations are important. This is done by watching behaviour and listening carefully to others, and their own inner voice.
Good leaders have the courage to face their fears, call it by name and then draw on their own inner strength to do what needs to be done. Facing and managing your fear is a sign of true leadership. They do the right things, not the popular things.
5. DEVELOP, COACH MENTOR PEOPLE
Good leaders take the time to encourage, mentor and coach their people, recognising this as one of the most important contributions they can make to the organisation. Leaders also understand the importance of coaching poor performers, where they believe the employees have the potential to learn, succeed or change behaviour.
Flexibility is required in everything from dealing with clients, managing staff and flexibility in thinking and working style. Be prepared tofind compromises, and able to see the other’s point of view.
From the perspective of younger workers, leaders display humility when they are not arrogant, and respectful towards everyone regardless of position or rank.
8. INSPIRE PEOPLE
Good leaders are able to motivate staff to not only give their best; they become the organisation’s best “marketing tool”. Great leaders inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things by believing in them, and trusting them.
9. INTEGRITY, AUTHENTICITY TRUSTWORTHINESS
Integrity is consistently seen by employees as the number one requirement they have of their leaders. It is often defined as “leaders who do what they say they will do”, and are honest and credible. Good leaders understand the importance of being themselves, being genuine, and not pretending to be something they are not! I describe this as “Keeping it Real”.
10. RESPECT AND VALUE DIVERSITY
Good leaders seek to hire people who are not carbon copies of themselves; people, who are different to them, challenge them, have new skills and experiences, and are willing to step out of their comfort zone. Good leaders value diversity rather than uniformity.
11. TENACIOUS RESILIENT
In times of crises, people take their lead from their leaders. If leaders are calm, people will be less anxious. Resilience is our ability not just to bounce back from stressful situations, but to bounce forwards to a new and better place.
12. CREATE A COMPELLING VISION
Vision is central to leadership, and it needs to be a shared vision, that engages people and makes them want to be part of it.