What does it really take to be a good leader?

Leadership is one of those terms being bandied about so frequently these days, that many people are now simply switching off when they hear the term used.
 

Which is a shame because true leadership, great leadership is an invaluable and precious resource that we can all benefit from, when we recognise it.

 

I was fortunate enough to hear Denise Goldsworthy speak at a Women’s Leadership Forum in Albany this week, and she gave one of the best presentations on the topic that I have heard in a long time.

 

Now Denise is a lady who walks her talk. She is the Managing Director of Dampier Salt Limited and Hismelt, two of Rio Tinto’s subsidiary companies. She is responsible for over 500 employees and a large global customer base. She is a leader.

(She has also just achieved her black belt in Taekwondo – so, don’t mess with Denise, you will come off worst!)

At the conference Denise shared her thoughts and insights into what she believes makes for truly effective leadership and which included the following:

1. Influence is obtained through INTEGRITY.

2. Never underestimate the power of COLLECTIVE KNOWLEDGE. This means including the value and strength of every employee, whether it is practical experience or technical knowledge.

3.In times of crisis, a leader has to master the ability to share bad news in a way that involves HONESTY, TRUST and CERTAINTY.

Her message was simple, succinct and from the heart.

Care about people, value their strengths and establish relationships.

I have been studying neuroleadership over the last 18 months with the Neuroleadership Institute. This is the brain science behind leadership and five core principles we looked at in depth were from David Rock’s SCARF model.

Status: where recognising your own status and that of others, in every conversation or interaction can help to minimise status threat. It is so easy to inadvertently offend or belittle another person if we fail to acknowledge this.

Certainty: In a difficult situation, too often leaders fail to give adequate information or the truth of the situation. It is so much easier to deal with reality than the fear of the unknown. Denise also gave the example that in times of adversity such as a natural disaster, when people know what is going on, they then will very often want to pitch in and help. Uncertainty creates fear and fear leads to resistance.

Autonomy: Some companies persist in micromanagement, disallowing the individual permission to bring in a personal item such as a pot plant or family photo for their desk, or insisting on meal breaks being taken in a certain way. Freedom of choice doesn’t always have to be about the big stuff. It is often the small stuff that matters to us the most. If companies are regularly losing staff – is it because they disallow autonomy?

Relatedness: We are social creatures and need to feel that we “belong” or are part of a tribe. Does your work place encourage relatedness: water cooler chats are not just for rehydration, they are an important place for connection.

Fairness: If a leader is seen to be fair, they will create a work culture where staff want to be, where staff are happy to work and will provide their best work.

If you are in a leadership position, do you share these beliefs?

If you work for a leader, what do you think makes them effective – is Denise right?

What do you look for in a leader?

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