What is leadership? Who is an effective leader? The answers to both questions are relative to every organization out there –whether large or small. The truth is, there is no one set of rules that make for an effective leader: Some people have it, and some do not. Leadership encompasses a slew of characteristics, and different people embody different traits.
When I write about social media effectiveness, I talk about the four “E’s” (Engage, Educate, Enthusiasm, Evangelism), so let me now describe the seven key “P’s” for leading. You do not have to have them all, but any and all will surely help if you want to be a successful leader.
While leadership is not exclusive to extroverts, a leader must have the ability to work a crowd and get some enjoyment out of engaging with a large and diverse number of people. A charismatic leader is often thought of as an effective leader. But I would issue a word of caution: There is a fine line between being charismatic and being perceived as disingenuous and phony. Develop a bit of an attitude, so people know what to expect.
Another way to show personality is through humor. A sense of humor, or the tendency to poke fun at yourself, helps a leader navigate the rough patches of any crisis your company might suffer. Keeping a clear and level-headed approach can be an asset during a moment of chaos. But joke with considerable care about the target. Jokes are all the rave when everyone finds them funny.
However, when the room temperature cools down a few degrees, all your intentions to be funny fly out the window. People will remember you, but for the wrong reasons. So, proceed cautiously but do keep your sense of humor.
Trying to persuade a diverse group of people can be a challenging task for any leader. At times, the effort feels like herding cats. As the leader of a company, you will have to deliver a few keynote addresses or other speeches—internally and externally—and your message needs to get across to all in attendance.
Keep in mind that you will be addressing people with varying degrees of education and with perches at every rung of the ladder. In order for your message to reach all, communicate in the jargon of the group or organization and make sure your message fits that audience.
Patience and perception
Patience and persistence are the essential twins you need to get things done. We live in an age of instant gratification, where everything has to happen now. If you are reading this thinking, "Sure, but that's easier said that done," I agree with you. Patience is not something that comes easily to me; and, sometimes, I even have to keep myself in check, because self-discipline is another trait every leader should have.
Perception, on the other hand, is a bit tricky, because everyone perceives things differently. For the most part, there is no clear-cut "right" and "wrong" here. Regardless of whether you agree with someone’s perception or not, you still need to remain engaged. Perception is only one part of the equation.
Honesty and trustworthiness are the pillars of any good leader. If your employees and colleagues cannot (or do not) trust you, you have a huge problem. People will follow only those they trust, and they appreciate candor and openness.
Honesty is often the trait that is most admired, but sometimes it is not practiced as often as it should be. This raises an interesting question: If people want honesty, do they want the same measure of candor? I am going to say yes! I do not believe in being two different people, one at home and one at work.
I would rather ruffle a few feathers and be honest than tell you what you want to hear. Who does that benefit? No one!
Everyone likes praise—especially when it is earned. You do not have to have a parade for every accomplishment, but a few kind words of encouragement can go a long way to foster goodwill and let your team members know they are appreciated. A leader who gives credit will definitely attract more followers and loyalty than one who is constantly bragging about his or her accomplishments.
Alternately, while it is important to praise those who have worked hard to earn it, do not point to colleagues or employees and say it was "all their fault." Good, effective leaders do not use their influence to throw someone else under the bus. On the contrary, make situations into teachable moments. I can guarantee that employees will remember how you treated them and will never make the same mistake again.
Leadership should be something that is of, by and for the people. And, much like those in Congress, many so-called leaders in business are distrusted because they are seen as self-serving and primarily interested in their own benefits.
A leader who forgets his or her purpose will not be a leader much longer. A leader who is secure in his or her abilities will share the company’s success with those who toil day-to-day. So, be that second kind of leader.
A good leader will also realize he or she cannot please everyone all the time. Some will be pleased at certain decisions, and others will not. That is just how life works.
However, leadership means making practical decisions that cater to the majority of the group. It means being perceptive enough to realize when the majority is right. And it means being strong enough to take action without enjoying the support of that majority—when the majority is wrong.
At the same time, a good leader stays strong to his or her convictions and accepts criticism, whether it is valid or not. Accepting criticism does not mean you have to agree with everything, but learning to discern what is valid from what is bogus is crucial.
What type of "P" leader are you?
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.
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