What is good leadership? This post is not about being a good boss, it’s about good qualities everyone can work on, in order to be respected and appreciated at work, and, in the long run, increase the chances both of personal, and corporate, success.
After several long discussions with different senior managers about why certain companies seem to have a more or less positive corporate culture, and some don’t, it seems that much of the culture is “dictated” by the top management. Top management behaviour will reflect down the ranks.
So, what is important in terms of leadership and behaviour at work?
One blog, beleaderly.com, has interviewed Oracle executive John Hall, who listed the four points he thought were important if you wanted to get promoted. In essence you should: don’t act children in a sand box full (“work well with your team” seems less specific as a summary); be data-centric (your statements carry more weight if you are clear on data); results-oriented (it doesn’t matter how nice you are if there are not goals or results); and operate with integrity, which I find extremely important. If you can’t stand up for what you do in public, then you had better not do it. All this, also applies to those who are already in a management role.
Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter has interviewed Carl-Henric Svanbergs, ex CEO of Ericsson regarding with the leadership of the company. His advice is to deliver every day, that’s why you are there. You also attend all the meetings, or it just doesn’t work (see my previous post about commitments). Leading a team with a common vision is his preferred way of leading as it makes for a positively driven environment. Then, he speaks about ensuring trust between everyone in the executive committee. This is interesting, as trust is not always on the top of this type of list. He also says it is important to take time to really hear what people have to say. Not just rush in and say: “I have decided this”, but to make sure you listen to different opinions with an open mind and encourage discussion. Once in a while, it’s worth rethinking your position. To me, this type of discussion doesn’t take place if there is not trust in the group to begin with.
A lot of these points, if not all, can be taken down to a lower level in companies. They can be used by each and every one who works in a company, and can help to gain in respect both from co-workers and management. Once you reach management level, these points become all the more important, as the manager is, indeed, responsible for the output of the team toward higher management. A team who trusts the boss will be happier, work better, and dare to come up with more creative solutions, compared to one where the boss is feared or, worse, not trusted. It is the manager’s responsibility to inspire the team to work well. If management doesn’t provide a good example, say of trust or vision, it is likely to become difficult to have single employees feel comfortable to apply such principles themselves.
Showing strong positive leadership is maybe one of the greatest challenges today in an ever more strained economy, with fierce and increasing competition from everywhere in the world. However, if it does result in higher potential for developing individual careers, and in higher yield for companies, why not go for it, 110%?