What is an Effective Leader

We are leaders from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. We are leaders to our children co-workers, to that person we helped on the side of the road or even to the senior citizen that we held the door open for. Some expand and spread their wings to improve on being a leader while others cast it to the side and disregard it. Many believe that leaders are made and not born. Truth be told, we are all natural born leaders but we have been deprogrammed along the way. As children, we were natural leaders, curious and humble, always thirsty for knowledge with an incredibly vivid imagination. We knew exactly what we wanted, were persistent and determined in getting what we wanted and had the ability to motivate, inspire and influence everyone around us to help us in accomplishing the mission.


Anyone can lead and set examples. What needs to be focused on is "effective" leaders setting "positive" examples for others to follow.


Effective leaders have a healthy level of emotional intelligence (EI). Essentially, EI is situational awareness on steroids. EI affords a leader to be self-aware; aware of their actions, their words, tone of voice and their body language. It also allows the leader to be aware of those same things within others. Lest we forget the surrounding environment as well.


Effective leadership allows the leader to create a vision. In turn, this vision creates collective or mutual goals. These goals create unity and therefore create a movement. Many effective leaders in our history have done the same thing such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa and many more.

Effective Leadership

Active Listening

The way to improve your listening skills is to practice "active listening." This is where you make a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying but, more importantly, try to understand the complete message being sent.

In order to do this you must pay attention to the other person very carefully.

You cannot allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments that you'll make when the other person stops speaking. Nor can you allow yourself to get bored, and lose focus on what the other person is saying. All of these contribute to a lack of listening and understanding.

Humility and the Leader

Humility to a leader is to humble him and it is an imperative component of effective leadership. It is also considered a competitive advantage. When a leader shows humility, he is modeling to people on how to grow. Now considering growing and learning often involve failure which can be embarrassing, leaders who can overcome their fears and broadcast their feelings as they work through the messy internal growth process will be viewed more favorably by their followers. It also legitimizes other people’s personal development. Leaders that develop growth signal to others that learning, growing, mistakes, uncertainty and false starts are normal and expected. This produces followers that continue to develop and grow. 

SWOT Yourself

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.


Although it's a strategic management tool taught at Harvard Business Schools and used by large multinationals, it can just as effectively be used in your own professional development as a leader. This is a useful key to gain access to self-knowledge, self-remembering and self-honoring. Start by listing all your strengths including your accomplishments. Then write down all your weaknesses and what needs to be improved. Make sure to include any doubts, anxieties, fears and worries you might have. These are the demons gaurding the door to your inner attic. By bringing them to conscious awareness, you can begin to slay them. Then proceed to list all opportunities you see available to you for using your strengths. Finally, write down all of the threats or obstacles that are currently blocking you or that you think you will encounter along the way to achieving your dreams.

Leadership and Vision

Without a vision, we perish. If you can't see yourself winning that award and feel the tears of triumph streaming down your face, it's highly unlikely you will be able to lead yourself and others to victory. Visualize what it would be like to accomplish your dream. See it, smell it, taste it, hear it and feel it in your gut.

Follow Your Bliss

Regardless of how busy you are, always take the time to do what you love doing. Being an alive and vital person vitalizes others. When you are pursuing your passions, people around you cannot help but feel impassioned by your presence. This will make you a charismatic leader. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, set aside time every week, ideally two or three hours a day, to pursue these activities.

Honor Your Word

Every time you break your word, you lose power. Successful leaders keep their word and their promises. You can accumulate all the toys and riches of the world, but you only have one reputation in life.Your word is gold. Honor it.

Code of a Leader

Most leaders live by a code. This code consists of honor, loyalty, integrity, humility and a set of standards but what are standards? Standards refer to one’s morals, values and virtues which includes their behavior and belief system. Leaders hold themselves accountable to this “code.”  

You Are the Example

People look for leaders who are leading themselves well first. No one wants to follow someone who has their life in shambles. It doesn’t make sense to follow someone who can’t make sense of their own lives. Rather, they’re looking for an example to follow. They want someone who has it more together, even if it’s only a little bit more than themselves, to take charge and move forward.

Self-Control

A portion of leading yourself is teaching yourself self-control. This means you don’t freak out over volatile situations and you don’t lash out at those around you. Without leading yourself in this area, it’s hard to lead others.

You Have to Have Something to Give

You have to lead yourself to great content to consume. You have to lead yourself to great mentors to follow. You have to lead yourself to a deeper sense of wisdom. To lead well, you must have something to give. To get something to give, you must be leading yourself to the wells of leadership inspiration.

Follow Before You Lead

Regardless of age, experience or status, effective leaders never cease practicing the art of followership. They see the big picture and recognize the role they play as the visionary, the mouthpiece or the strategist, but they continue following a plan and submitting to a vision, just as their teams must do.

Prioritize Yourself

Just as your body needs rest after a heavy gym workout, so too does your brain, which is why scheduling white space to reflect is so important. Solitude allows you to renew; it allows you time to think about thinking. In other words, when you walk away from the problem for a moment, your mind has time to see it from a macro perspective rather than the micro-level view. You begin to see the larger puzzle and what pieces should fit where rather than only that single “piece” in front of you. Solitude is a subjective state of mind, in which the mind, isolated from input from other minds, works through a problem on its own. Solitude creates clarity and clarity creates meaning.

Basic Leadership Styles

Transformational

The transformational leadership style depends on high levels of communication from management to meet goals. These leaders motivate people and enhance productivity and efficiency through communication and high visibility. This style of leadership requires the involvement of management to meet goals. Leaders focus on the big picture within an organization and delegate smaller tasks to the team to accomplish goals. 

Autocratic

The autocratic leadership style allows managers to make decisions alone without the input of others. Managers possess total authority and impose their will on employees. No one challenges the decisions of autocratic leaders. Countries such as Cuba and North Korea operate under the autocratic leadership style. This leadership style benefits employees who require close supervision. Creative employees who thrive in group functions detest this leadership style. 

Transactional

Managers using the transactional leadership style receive certain tasks to perform and provide rewards or punishments to team members based on performance results. Managers and team members set predetermined goals together, and employees agree to follow the direction and leadership of the manager to accomplish those goals. The manager possesses power to review results and train or correct employees when team members fail to meet goals. Employees receive rewards, such as bonuses, when they accomplish goals. 

Laissez-Faire

A laissez-faire leader lacks direct supervision of employees and fails to provide regular feedback to those under his supervision. Highly experienced and trained employees requiring little supervision fall under the laissez-faire leadership style. However, not all employees possess those characteristics. This leadership style hinders the production of employees needing supervision. The laissez-faire style produces no leadership or supervision efforts from managers, which can lead to poor production, lack of control and increasing costs. 

Servant

The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions. The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature. 

Situational

Situational Leadership provides leaders with an understanding of the relationship between an effective style of leadership and the level of readiness that followers exhibit for a specific task.


More specifically, situational leaders maintain an acute awareness of their innate leadership-related strengths and areas for development; critical skill sets in working in high-performing organizations. They conduct highly effective coaching conversations by understanding when a particular leadership style has a high probability of success and when it does not. They skillfully influence up, down and across the organization by knowing when to be “consistent” and when to be “flexible.” They create more productive teams/organizations by accelerating the development of individuals that are new to their role and/or are learning a new task. They develop engaged, committed employees by effectively recognizing and proactively addressing the dynamics of performance regression. They effectively drive behavior change and business results by communicating through a common, practical language of leadership.