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Effective leadership is quite hard to come across. We have all these leaders who are just after titles and the success that comes with them. That is not leadership.

The word Leadership brings out different perception such as:

  • Family leadership
  • Cultural leadership
  • Religious leadership
  • Political leadership
  • Institutional leadership

What is effective leadership?

Effective leadership is self-explanatory. It is just the type of leadership that is effective. However, what is leadership? There are different definitions of Leadership

  • Leadership is a process whereby one individual influences others to willingly and enthusiastically direct their efforts and abilities towards attaining defined group or organizational goals.
  • Leadership is about setting goals and objectives and generating enthusiasm and motivation amongst the team to work towards those objectives.
  • A leader’s job is to build a team not to try to make all plans himself
  • Leadership is the process of influencing Leaders and followers to achieve organizational objectives through change
  • Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t like to do and like it.

Effective leadership comes from Influence

The keyword coming across the influence.

To influence someone is to have an effect or impact on someone or something. If a person influences someone else they are changing a person or a thing in an indirect but important way. Sometimes a person who influences another doesn’t intend to have any effect but sometimes they do it to benefit themselves (vocabulary.com dictionary).

So leadership is the art or ability to create a goal or objective, also referred to as a vision and have the influence to make people willingly employ or deploy their energy and resources to drive it.

Effective leadership needs an effective leader. An effective leader is a person who does the following:

  1. It creates an inspiring vision of the future.
  2. Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
  3. Manages the delivery of the vision.
  4. Coaches and builds a team, so that it is more effective at achieving the vision.

Effective leadership in practice

Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things.

1.  Creating an Inspiring Vision of the Future

In business, a vision is a realistic, convincing and attractive depiction of where you want to be in the future. Vision provides direction, sets priorities, and provides a marker so that you can tell that you’ve achieved what you wanted to achieve.

The holy book says where there’s no vision, people perish or cast restraint.

A vision is a lifelong dream or the visualized end.  A leader is, therefore, a man or a woman who can dream and put the dream in words and images that people can conceive and own.

Therefore, leadership is proactive – problem-solving, looking ahead, and not being satisfied with things as they are.

Once they have developed their visions, leaders must make them compelling and convincing.

A compelling vision is one that people can see, feel, understand, and embrace. Effective leaders provide a rich picture of what the future will look like when their visions have been realized. They tell inspiring stories and explain their visions in ways that everyone can relate to.

Here, leadership combines the analytical side of vision creation with the passion of shared values, creating something really meaningful to the people being led.

2. Motivating and Inspiring People

A compelling vision provides the foundation for leadership. But it’s the leaders’ ability to motivate and inspire people that helps them deliver that vision.

For example, when you start a new project, you will probably have lots of enthusiasm for it, so it’s often easy to win support for it at the beginning. However, it can be difficult to find ways to keep your vision inspiring after the initial enthusiasm fades, especially if the team or organization needs to make significant changes in the way that it does things. Leaders recognize this, and they work hard throughout the project to connect their vision with people’s individual needs, goals, and aspirations.

One of the key ways they do this is through Expectancy Theory

Effective leaders link together two different expectations:

  1. The expectation that hard work leads to good results.
  2. The expectation that good results lead to attractive rewards or incentives.

This motivates people to work hard to achieve success because they expect to enjoy rewards – both intrinsic and extrinsic – as a result.

Other approaches include restating the vision in terms of the benefits it will bring to the team’s customers, and taking frequent opportunities to communicate the vision attractively and engagingly.

What’s particularly helpful here is when leaders have expert power

People admire and believe in these leaders because they are experts in what they do. They have credibility, and they’ve earned the right to ask people to listen to them and follow them. This makes it much easier for these leaders to motivate and inspire the people they lead.

Leaders can also motivate and influence people through their natural charisma and appeal, and through other sources of power, such as the power to pay bonuses or assign tasks to people. However, good leaders don’t rely too much on these types of power to motivate and inspire others.

3. Managing Delivery of the vision

This is the area of leadership that relates to management

Leaders must ensure that the work needed to deliver the vision is properly managed – either by themselves or by a dedicated manager or team of managers to whom the leader delegates this responsibility – and they need to ensure that their vision is delivered successfully.

To do this, team members need performance goals that are linked to the team’s overall vision. Our article on Performance Management and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) explains one way of doing this, And, for the day-to-day management of delivering the vision, the Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) approach helps to ensure that what should happen, really happens.

Leaders also need to make sure they manage change effectively. This helps to ensure that the changes needed to deliver the vision are implemented smoothly and thoroughly, with the support and backing of the people affected.

4. Coaching and Building a Team to achieve a Vision

Individual and team development are important activities carried out by transformational leaders. To develop a team, leaders must first understand team dynamics.

A leader will then ensure that team members have the necessary skills and abilities to do their job and achieve the vision. They do this by giving and receiving feedback regularly, and by training and coaching people to improve individual and team performance.

Leadership also includes looking for leadership potential in others. By developing leadership skills within your team, you create an environment where you can continue success in the long term. And that’s a true measure of great leadership.

Word of caution on effective leadership

The words “leader” and “leadership” are often used incorrectly to describe people who are managing. These individuals may be highly skilled, good at their jobs, and valuable to their organizations – but that just makes them excellent managers, not leaders.

So, be careful how you use the terms, and don’t assume that people with “leader” in their job titles, people who describe themselves as “leaders,” or even groups called “leadership teams” are creating and delivering transformational change.

A particular danger in these situations is that people or organizations that are being managed by such an individual or group think they’re being led, but they’re not. There may actually be no leadership at all, with no one setting a vision and no one being inspired. This can cause serious problems in the long term.

Final thoughts on effective leadership

Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people.

In the transformational leadership model, leaders set direction and help themselves and others to do the right thing to move forward. To do this they create an inspiring vision, and then motivate and inspire others to reach that vision. They also manage the delivery of the vision, either directly or indirectly, and build and coach their teams to make them even stronger.

Effective leadership is about all of this – and it’s exciting to be part of this journey!

Simon M. Wamburu

Senior Manager, HR Tuskys Kenya, Certified Trainer & Pastor

Email: Siwamburu@gmail.com


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