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Leadership at its best

I recently attended the provincial conference for my local HR association – HRANS (Human Resources Association of Nova Scotia). For my American colleagues, this is the equivalent of your state SHRM conference. One speaker in particular shared something with me that really resonated. Vince Marsh, from Deloitte Consulting, spoke about the HR leaders’ role in developing a high performance team culture. One part of his presentation that stuck with me was when he focused on Sr. level leadership in organizations. Vince indicated that, “Sr. level leadership is at its best when leaders have the following core capabilities:”

Leader1. Energy
2. Decision-making
3. Influence
4. Engagement
5. Business know-how

When you think of great leaders that you have worked for or with, how do those capabilities resonate with you? Can you think of how they apply? For context, as another speaker, J.P. Pawliw-Fry put it, “leadership is not a title, it is an activity.” So, for the activity of leadership, here is why I think these 5 capabilities are so key:

Energy – I see energy as important not in the sense of someone who is able to go full-speed all the time, work crazy hours and then get up and do it all over again the next day. I see energy in great leaders as demonstrated by those that have the time, capacity and focus to communicate with and support their team. They always have the energy and focus to coach, support, address a problem, remove an obstacle or whatever ‘thing’ is impeding the team’s progress. They have the energy to deal with ‘stuff’ and get ‘stuff’ done. Their drive, focus and ability to delegate give them this energy to focus on the important stuff, hence why they are great leaders. They understand their role as a leader and focus their energy on just that – being a leader.

Decision-making – for me, the best leaders I have seen and worked for do just that, make a decision. How many times in your workplace have you seen managers and leaders waffle around, twist and turn and run things up for further approvals just to mitigate any and all risk. All the while you have team members saying, “Just make a decision!” The best leaders quickly evaluate the situation at hand and make an informed decision. They don’t need to seek multiple layers of approvals for day to day decisions. They don’t need to mull basic questions/requests over for days at a time and they certainly don’t pull the old non-decision trick. You know, the one where an employee needs a decision by a certain date/time and the manager conveniently gets back to them with an ‘answer’ after said date/time has passed. Great leadership – huh?

Influence & Engagement – great leaders possess this ability not because they have some sort of position of authority or power, or because their position on the org. chart denotes it. Great leaders are able to influence due to their ability to engage their staff/team members and lead them towards a goal. Leaders are able to align their team members and provide line of sight into what the team must accomplish. They clearly define what the overall goal or objective is that must be accomplished and they are able to get-buy in and commitment from the team members to accomplish this. Great leaders are able to motivate through effective goal setting, line of sight, performance measurement, coaching and reward/recognition abilities.

Business know-how – at the end of the day, great leaders understand the business they are in and the company they work for. They understand the industry and the role that their team plays in the accomplishment of organizational goals. HR Leaders – are you paying attention!) From a business know-how perspective, they understand what market factors influence their organization and their team, they are well versed in business trends and changes in technology and I believe they truly embrace (through their actions) the philosophy of “think globally, act locally.” In my experience I have found it to be very frustrating working for a manager or a company that really doesn’t see beyond its own four walls. They tend to have a very myopic view of things and truly can’t embrace leadership fundamentals because of this.
What about you? Do you agree/disagree with these 5 core capabilities and my spin on them? As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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