What is effective leadership?
Today, effective leadership is determined by whatever behaviour and attributes your company and culture deems valuable. This is then translated into a vision of how leaders should behave to deliver successfully.
Training is also shaped around these perceptions to build consistent skills amongst leaders, but what happens when standardized training clashes with a leader’s personal strengths and values?
Executive coaching can help.
Culture & leadership development
The values advocated by your country’s prevailing culture and your company are both important and may even align with your own. This makes it comfortable to develop and adopt their preferred leadership style. However, when you compare these values and expectations to your strengths, they may not fit well.
If this is the case, it means you are required to utilise your weaknesses in your leadership behaviour, which will feel uncomfortable for you – like a too small shirt. It will never become a natural behaviour you can integrate into yourself.
This misalignment will be difficult to portray consistently and will be exhausting to maintain. In times of stress you may revert to your natural behaviours, which will confuse everyone around you.
Effective leaders are expected to be proactive, present, and have high energy. They must oversee the happenings of the overall organisation and their own area of responsibility, all while showing clear direction in decision making.
If you lack unity between your personal values and strengths and the leadership style you are portraying, it will become apparent through inconsistent behaviour.
People around you will notice the inconsistency and begin to question how sincere you are. This has implications for your staff, as they can tell when a leader is sincere/authentic, and if they doubt this their trust and willingness to believe in you diminishes. At its worst this is displayed by a team that only does what they are directed, display no initiative, work only set hours and show no sense of team cohesion.
No one type of leadership fits everyone
There’s a reason why leadership has a multitude of definitions and there are many ‘types’ of leadership identified and researched. If you are clear on your values, what you stand for, what you want to portray, and your strengths, you can customise the leadership style valued by your company and society. In this way, you can use your strengths to support the valued style of effective leadership you aim for.
Starting from within brings out the best type of leader you are capable of being. By focusing on strengths you already possess, you will portray your natural leadership. Whether in crisis or tired, in all situations your behaviour will be consistent because it is driven from a place of sincerity within you.
The challenge of leadership research today is that to be valid it requires thousands of entries of analysis. This results in the traits reported being the average of the number of people interviewed. Outliers are lost (the truly brilliant as well as the terrible). The results are depersonalised due to the findings being the average results of what 2000, 10,000 or a million people have reported.
It is the standard of the majority – the factory line version of effective leadership. To support this, training providers deliver standardised training in the core skills identified from the research to maximize profits.
With both the research and supporting training being generic, the capability of each individual is not maximised. In this way, leadership training is actually delivered back the front, and the training you receive should come after your values and strengths have been identified.
At Xseed Lead, we help leaders reflect on the skills they’ve learned in training and create an action plan to integrate these skills with their values. With our executive coaching service, we successfully help our clients build off of their strengths to display effective leadership that is sincere and natural.
Curious about our process? Talk to us today to learn more and get started.
Deborah Knight is the founder of Xsead Lead with a background in organisational and individual leadership and executive coaching. As a coach, Deborah aims to create an inclusive and respectful space where individuals and organisations can do the work necessary for growth and change. She is also passionate about helping women be valued for themselves while also contributing and being successful.
Apart from her company which she is deeply passionate about, Deborah also loves bushwalking, reading, travelling, and learning new things.
For any coaching or organizational support enquires Deborah can be contacted via her company website.