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The right choice for leaders

Professors Andrew and Nada Kakabadse and Dr. Ali Jawad, experts in top team and board consulting, training and development, consider the challenges of leadership

Throughout history, individuals attracted to leadership roles have been characterised by a strong desire to pursue their own personal interests, in addition to those of the cause or organisation they head.

The sheer strength of their power often lies in an ability to influence, convince and sometimes manipulate others into supporting their agenda.

However, whether a successful leader is benefiting personally from organisational focus, or the organisation from their personal vision, can often be unclear. If a leader is, in fact, prioritising a personal agenda then they are likely to be placing their organisation in a vulnerable position.

People become leaders through experience and hard work. They strive to be more than they already are and believe in continuous development.

High-performing leaders develop four critical abilities:

  • IQ, or ‘cognitive intelligence’ – the ability to deal with vast amounts of information swiftly and efficiently, predict potential outcomes and develop effective strategies
  • EQ, or ‘emotional intelligence’ – the self-awareness, empathy and social skills to manage emotions, and understand those of others
  • MQ, or ‘moral intelligence’ – ethical behaviours including responsibility, compassion and forgiveness, that enable leaders to make choices influenced by what is morally right or wrong
  • PQ, or ‘political skills’ – the ability to interpret the intent and behaviour of others, form a view of what is happening and why, and engineer appropriate ways to move forward

Ulysses, the hero of ‘Homer’s Odyessy’, asks his close friend Mentor to prepare his son Telemachus to be his successor as king of Ithaca. The best way to learn leadership skills is to demonstrate a willingness to learn from others, ask questions, listen to the voices of experience, and learn from personal mistakes.

Leadership strategies that can be adopted to ensure decisions are genuinely taken in the best interests of an organisation include:

  • Be genuinely engaged with your organisation and colleagues
  • Listen to clients and partners and value their ideas
  • Recognise and understand your organisation’s big picture goals
  • Be collaborative
  • Invite feedback
  • Help others
  • Make time to learn and reflect
  • Be sincere and enthusiastic
  • Learn from past mistakes
  • Develop a personal vision around ‘What shall be’ and ‘Why it is so’

There is a fine line between self-confidence and self-love. Leaders who genuinely engage with their colleagues, partners and clients, benefit from thesatisfaction of crafting an organisation’s future according to their own vision. They can also be confident in the knowledge that they are achieving positive change while helping others.

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