Effective Leadership: Why It’s Important And How It’s Achieved
Let’s get straight to the point: No successful organization would have been where it is today without effective leadership. Effective leadership is almost always one of the main and primary drivers for growth, development, and innovation.
And take note, leadership isn’t about the titles or even the accolades. Effective leadership is much more meaningful, impactful, and profound. It’s earned and worked for. There is no set formula or step-by-step plan, it depends on the culture and needs of the organization.
What is leadership?
The dictionary version of leadership is “to lead a group of people or an organization.” But it’s not as simple as that. Leaders throughout every rung of the organization ladder are integral to the overall success of the business. Effective leadership is about executing the company’s vision (or redefining and improving it, in some cases) and setting the tone and the culture for that particular organization. Leadership means creating and planning, securing resources, and looking out for and improving errors. Leadership is about motivating people to work together and cooperate with themselves and in some cases, other teams, to achieve a certain goal.
It’s also important to point out that leadership is different from managing. While management is also an integral part of the success of an organization, it is fundamentally different from leadership. Managers manage things. They look at logistics, balanced budgets, and so on. While good managers can also have effective leadership skills — which is actually very ideal — the two do not necessarily always go together.
An Entrepreneur article defines leadership as “a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good.” Notice that it’s rather a matter of influence rather than of rank or title. It also shows the “social” aspect of effective leadership that utilizes and recognizes the efforts of other people as well and not just of one individual.
Effective leadership shines not only when the going is good, but also (even more so, sometimes) when things are rough. They’re respected (not feared) by the people around them, who in turn, become motivated to work harder and make more significant contributions to the betterment of the organization as well.
Leadership is not about working towards a goal single-handedly. In fact, leadership is about inspiring and motivating people to work together towards a goal.
Good leadership is important. As an article from Pennsylvania State University states, “Effective leadership is essential to a functioning society.” On a smaller scale, the fact remains true in organizations and businesses. It’s basically impossible for a company to continue to evolve and grow with the times without effective leadership. Especially during this time where digital technology is changing every aspect of how business is being done and how customers are engaging with brands, a brand without effective leaders will be like a ship sailing without a captain directing which way to go.
What makes good leaders?
Being a good leader isn’t something everyone can do. It’s not easy. Every effective leader needs to possess and/or work towards their goals and vision. Good leaders are keys to improved productivity and morale among members of an organization. So what makes an effective leader? Many good leaders share several traits and attitudes. Here are some of them.
1. Good leaders are decisive
Effective leadership is about not wasting time. That includes the time needed to make decisions. More often than not, so much time can be wasted in the decision-making process that many opportunities are missed. Production sometimes even comes to a halt. Good leaders are all about making informed decisions but are always mindful of the timeframes involved. And once a decision is made, they commit to it and see things through. They realize that putting-off important decisions can have significant effects on an organization's productivity and growth.
2. They practice what they preach
Effective leadership, in essence, also involves leading by example. It’s hard to respect someone who asks everyone to come on time or work towards a certain goal if that person isn’t willing to come on time or put in their share of the work themselves. Many times, good leaders set the bar — and meet it — instead of just talking down to everyone. As an article in Forbes says, “A leader who rolls up their sleeves and gets dirty from time to time will create a loyalty in his or her people that will result in achieving goals beyond what we usually expect.”
3. They don’t lose sight of goals
Effective leaders are problem-solvers. Or at the very least, they don’t dwell on problems and instead focus on working towards a solution. They don’t have the answers all the time, but they sure will always be working to get answers. They don’t complain and instead look forward and move forward, always keeping in mind the goals they set at the beginning, and always looking at the bigger picture. To this end, they prioritize and set the tasks that need to be done first.
4. They are passionate about what they do
Effective leadership is about believing in what one is doing. Good leaders don’t and will never say, “it’s just a job,” or “I just work here.” They care about what they do, they care about the organization, and they care about the people they lead and work with.
5. Good leaders are humble and accountable
This plays into the aspect of effective leadership that relies on generating respect that is earned, instead of relying on one’s position or title in the organization. It is humility that makes great leaders open-minded and willing to listen to others and even take constructive criticism. They don’t let pride get in the way of accomplishing goals and executing their vision for the business. They are also willing to take responsibility for their actions and don’t point fingers at the people they work with when things go south.
6. They give credit where credit is due
Often you’ll hear the story about the boss that stole an idea or took credit for someone else’s accomplishment. Good leaders share the glory and are quick to credit a team member or colleague for a good idea. They know that success is through teamwork, and they respect the contribution and work other people make.
7. Helps people grow
Great leaders help people grow. They willingly share what they know and look out for learning opportunities for the people they work with (or the people who work for them). They build up the team and foster strong relationships, rapport, and cooperation within that team. They know the weakest link and work towards strengthening that weak link.
8. Communicate effectively
An integral part of effective leadership is strong communication. And communication isn’t just saying “I want this to happen.” It’s all about listening and truly considering the input that comes from other people in the team. Proper communication allows for better dissemination of information, as well as a stronger ability to work well with others when the situation calls for it.
9. Confident and unafraid of the unknown
Great leaders are true visionaries, who are not afraid to step outside their comfort zones. They are willing to take risks and try new things. They’re all about seeing the organization continue to grow and develop, instead of just settling down into a comfortable and complacent routine. They are willing to tackle challenges as they come for the sake of meeting their goals and their vision. According to an article on Inc., A good leader is “able to prove that [they] have the competencies and the skills to be an effective leader and to lead the team to its common goal.”
10. They are trustworthy
Imagine working for someone who cannot be trusted. Difficult, right? Good leaders never violate the trust that is given to them — either by people higher up in the organizational ladder or by people who work for and with them. This trustworthiness makes them more approachable and makes others feel more comfortable opening up to them and providing honest feedback or input that in the end, contributes to the growth of the organization