“Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things,” says Peter F Drucker. While many bosses may think they’re good leaders, their employees often beg to differ. Yet a willingness to work on oneself is the first step on the road to effective leadership.

The leadership struggle
A gifted leader makes his job look easy, but others battle to find the vision or people skills the position demands. According to executive business coach René Barnard: “Many people have not been given the skills or experience before being put into leadership positions. They also mistakenly believe that if they are a manager of some sort, they are automatically a leader.” She believes that companies should focus on training managers to become good leaders, instead of assuming they already have the appropriate skills.

What makes a good leader?

There are many misconceptions surrounding what makes a good leader. These include the belief that leaders always know the answers and that respect and trust come with the leadership territory. Aggression and ruling through fear is also a common mistake leaders make, says Barnard.

While many differ on how they define good leaders, some characteristics stand out. Barnard identifies a few effective leadership habits:
– Learn to listen – and also to hear what is not being said out loud.
– Step back and see – vision, opportunities, reality etc.
– Communicate – their vision, ensure their people share the vision and understand it. Communication must be regular and open to cultivate trust and respect.
– Walk the talk – build credibility.
– Constantly learn, review situations, and be able to act on their gut.
– Leaders must support and motivate their people do their very best.
– Sometimes be willing to follow.

Born or made?
While many people are naturally good leaders, others have to work harder to develop the required skills. “We are born with certain personality and attitude traits and if they align with leadership skills, then good leadership almost happens automatically,” says Barnard. However, one does have to work to develop these skills in the right direction.

Those born without natural leadership traits may struggle in leadership roles, but with enough commitment they can develop the necessary skills. In this case, “one would have to consciously think about and reflect leadership qualities until it becomes a new habit,” says Barnard.

Leadership strategies
Barnard and leadership experts suggest the following ways to become a good leader:

  • Coaching and mentoring programmes.
  • Constantly learning and reading – increasing your knowledge base.
  • Seeking honest and open feedback from peers and staff.
  • Making time for oneself – to think, strategise, ponder, and ask questions.
  • Evaluate your success in line with that of the entire team.

Making Good Decisions, Maintaining Order And Building Respect Is All In A Day’s Work For Business Leaders – Here’s How To Become Good At It
By Gillian Bloch For Destiny Connect (Destinyconnect.Com)