Thoughts On The Attributes Of A LeaderPresentation Transcript
Leadership Thoughts on the Attributes of an Effective Leader Al Walsh Walsh Enterprises Business & Financial Advisors Huntington Beach, California USA http://www.awalsh.us [email_address] (714) 465-2749
Leadership. Much has been written on the subject. The internet is awash with discussions & opinions about it; much of it by people who’ve never led anything. The purpose of this presentation is to share, from my experience, two key thoughts regarding leadership:
* One which I consider critical
* And one I consider totally unimportant but which creates a lot of
confusion & misguided thought.
Let’s start with the unimportant but confusing aspect.
What Isn’t Important:
Much has been said about the role of personality in shaping an effective leader. To my mind, this is a totally unimportant matter. I’ve seen effective leaders (and ineffective ones), spanning the entire scale of personalities. Certain traits can help – such as the ability to communicate easily – but are not necessary and should not be mistaken for effective leadership. One of the most effective leaders I’ve known is a man who was introverted, had little charisma, and hardly ever spoke unless he thought it was important.
Enough said about that. Now let’s talk about the critical characteristic.
What Is Important:
An effective leader must have the ability to expand their mind and comprehend the big picture . They must understand the vision, the strategy, the tactics, the organization, and the people. They must be able to comprehend it, shape it, and guide it. They must also comprehend outside factors. They must see the “whole organism”.
Whether you propose to lead a small group, a large organization, an entire company, a political campaign, or any other human effort – this is a critical requirement.
You must comprehend the strengths and weaknesses of your organization & people – and shape their growth.
You must understand the interaction of the various departments & groups better than they comprehend it themselves.
As leader, you are responsible for shaping everything; from vision to culture to infrastructure.
You must comprehend your subordinate managers and guide them without choking their ability to be leaders themselves.
You must be able to comprehend the constant changes that are taking place internally & externally; and sometimes you will be responsible for those changes.
This leadership skill is not innate. We are not born with it. It is a learned skill. My suggestion is to expose yourself to leaders who have this skill and learn from observation. That’s probably how they learned.
If you’re in a quasi-leadership role, such as chairing a committee, than you just tone down to fit the circumstances. But this presentation is oriented toward the person who’s in a true leadership role.
Some say that leaders shouldn’t get caught up in the details, and should remain “above the fray”. This is true, to a point. As the old saying goes, “The Devil is in the Details” and many a good plan was wrecked by not paying sufficient attention. My approach has always been to pay a high level of attention to details, but to deal with them from above through subordinates; giving the subordinates as much independent latitude as possible. Any effective manager I’ve known had the ability to surprise their subordinates regularly with their knowledge of the details. They learned, they tucked the knowledge under their hats, they used it to guide their thinking & leadership, and they revealed it when circumstances warranted – often to the surprise of others. The “shock value” can be a great leadership tool.
Most people find that once they’ve developed the ability to comprehend the big picture, they’ve also developed the thinking skills to guide and shape it. The two abilities go hand-in-hand.
If you want to achieve a leadership role, this is the skill that will be most important to success. You must develop the ability, and you must convince your seniors that you have it.
If you’ve failed at a leadership role, it’s probably because you were thrust into it before you’d developed the necessary skill. Unfortunately, it happens. It’s never too late to develop that skill and seek out another leadership opportunity.
It helps to have a healthy curiosity in developing the “big picture” skill. Even a low-level person can learn a lot about the environment around them if they take the time to observe. If you want to grow, open your eyes & ears and close your mouth.
That’s all I really have to say. I won’t bore you to death with the litany of other traits; such as honesty & integrity. Many of the required traits of an effective leader are the same as those required to be an effective human being. If you’ve worked at your general “human” skills, you already have many of the necessary traits & skills for effective leadership. Now work on that “big picture” skill and you’ll be there.