Good and performant leadership is a critical component of any successful endeavour. I have been a leader most of my career; however, only in the last 12 months have I come to appreciate what being a leader is. A good leader is an expert at aligning their thoughts, behaviours, and morals with their authentic being. I believe it is through the conscious and cognitive process of aligning your being with the needs of your followers that dominates the efficacy of your leadership. I have identified four statements that I believe are the key to keeping oneself aligned with the values and behaviours of a truly Transformational and Servant Leader.
Vision is everything.
To lack vision is to invite chaos. Followers with a poorly defined vision cannot know where they should go. Inspirational vision underpins almost every aspect of good leadership. Without it, your followers are blind and cannot function effectively. No vision means no alignment, collaboration, strategy, or future. A leader must be inspirational and ensure that the followers have an articulated and purposeful vision supported by conversation, action, and positive role-modelling. Followers must have something to rally behind and believe in; failing to do so is a grave injustice.
Emotional Labour is everything else.
It is equally vital that a good leader role-models mindfulness and managing their emotional labour. Great leaders are aware of their own emotions and the emotions of their colleagues and can temper them before they become destructive. Failure to regulate one’s emotions can lead to a breach of trust and may undermine the faith your followers have in you and your vision. Leaders help their followers do the same.
Delegating tasks creates followers but delegating authority creates leaders.
Leaders have a duty of care to their followers. Part of that duty is to create an environment where they get to exercise and practice their leadership traits and skills. An employee is more likely to emotionally invest in the leader’s vision if they feel as though they are empowered and trusted to excel. By allowing followers the freedom to become authorities in their work, you create an environment much more favourable to innovation and success. As followers become leaders themselves, supported and armed with a clear vision, they will inspire others and become powerful agents of positive change.
You can control, or you can lead, but you can’t do both.
You can leverage your positional power over a follower to get them to do something the way you want it done, but to do so is not leadership. Effective leadership means trusting your followers to know your reasons for your decisions. If you cannot explain your rationale to your followers, they may lose faith in their purpose and your competency to lead them. Trust that your followers want to do what is in the collective best interest, and you must not do anything to undermine the trust they’ve put in you. Leadership is not demonstrated by wielding power but by increasing the power of those following