arry Posner, in his best-selling book – ‘The Leadership Challenge’ – says that the qualities we want in a leader are essentially the same ones we want in a friend or co-worker or a partner, ‘except for one’. In leaders, we also need to see an additional dimension – we need to know their ‘vision’ if we are to enrol in their cause. Leaders must visualise and formulate a ‘compelling’ future that enrols others. This is where the bus stops and you should get down if you realise that leadership is not for you.
In the past few weeks, we studied authenticity and trustworthiness create the basis for committed relationships. People who are authentic and trustworthy are generally good and fair. They can be suitable candidates for genuine friendship. But, it doesn’t mean that we should follow them – anywhere. These two important virtues are necessary but insufficient to create committed followership.
To be willing to act of our own free will and choose to follow someone, we must experience something distinctly different. We must feel ‘compelled’. Ask any successful leader and he will tell you that any version of success required committed ‘action’ toward goals. And action requires teams of people assembled around leaders lined up with a shared vision. Compelling leaders create a following that is different from one of ‘believers’ (like spiritual teachers or gospel preachers). Leaders inspire followers who commit not just their mind but also their time and energy.
Compelling leaders, on the other hand, will lead by the power of their competence
Compelling leaders in an organisation are the strategic difference between exceptional achievement and mediocrity.
It happens all the time in all kinds of organisations. Someone is placed in a position of leadership, but he lacks the skills to engender loyalty, attract followers and use risk as a technique to grow and learn. These are the positional leaders that can bring organisational growth and employee achievement to a halt.
Positional leaders lead by the power of their position. They can lead only when they are the ‘top’ players’ bracket. They think what they don’t know is unimportant. They manage the actions of others. They use only their current knowledge. They would rather play it safe, taking minimal risks. They blame others for failure. They force their followers to obey them.
Compelling leaders, on the other hand, will lead by the power of their competence. They are leaders from any position. They understand what they know and don’t know. They take action. They are always actively learning. They take calculated risks. They learn from risks that fail or succeed. They are followed without any pressure.
The first powerful reality is that positional leaders can learn the principles and practices they need to become compelling leaders. The second powerful reality is that people at all levels of an organisation can use the principles and practices of compelling leadership. If an organisation has an abundance of compelling leaders, the achievements, success, and profitability would follow at all levels.
The high-impact programmes of compelling leadership deliver the leadership principles, strategies and actions that can make the difference in any organisation - the difference between exceptional achievement and mediocrity. These programmes are motivational, stimulating and humorous - while delivering action-oriented and practical how-to steps that you can use today!
Many of us are capable of this compelling leadership. But being a compelling leader is not simple and natural for most. It’s more than just recruiting and building a team or company. It’s about being more than just inspirational.
Below are skills you must master to create a movement of people who will step up and do something important and powerful.
1. They show strength.
Some leaders are stronger than others. Weakness can come from character, but often it comes from a lack of belief in the mission. Compelling leaders are resolved. They embody faith and commitment to their message, which builds a belief in their authenticity. Their strength is rich and deep enough for others to not only observe it but to draw from it.
To be a compelling leader, you must choose a cause worthy of your faith and share your inner strength boldly and generously.
2. They connect empathetically.
Many leaders lead with appointed authority. But compelling leaders don’t worry about acquired authority. Instead, they practice empathy as a means for inspiring people. They explore how people tick and what they care about, so they are able to address people ‘where they live’. By sharing rather than telling, they draw people’s interest into the mission at hand and motivate them to get involved.
To be a compelling leader, you must be approachable and relatable to attract and retain those who will join your journey.
3. They inspire with vision.
Leading people through tasks makes them dependent and reactive. Compelling leaders can clearly articulate a vision. They paint a picture of something better for people to live and breathe. They describe their message in clear, straightforward language and relate the emotional components in a way that is easily absorbed by those ready to move forward.
To be a compelling leader, you must be a great storyteller. You must detail for people a desirable future worthy of their efforts.
4. They attract doers.
Leaders are judged as much by their teams as by their actions. Compelling leaders attract many but choose to build teams only with proactive people who are self-driven and objective-oriented. The opportunity to work with high performers then becomes additional incentive for others to join or to step up their game. A team with a compelling leader carries out its tasks with a sense of fun and camaraderie, further enhancing the experience and the performance.
To be a compelling leader, you must be selective about those who join your team. You must reward those who are self-starters and forgo the weak that will deplete morale.
5. They earn respect.
Many leaders have authority bestowed upon them. But a title or salary is not sufficient to command top performance. Compelling leaders gain authority from their performance and how they relate to people. They earn respect of people through small actions of success and connection. Then people trust that leaders have a right to be heard and followed. They may not have ‘all’ the answers, but they know how to move forward in a humble and inclusive way.
To be a compelling leader, you must never assume authority. No matter your position or tenure, you must treat every day as an opportunity to be gracious and earn respect.
6. They instil confidence.
Many leaders direct action without providing the support and tools to achieve the objectives. Compelling leaders make sure that all the tools are there for people to execute from day one. They make sure that everyone on their team is prepared physically and mentally for the journey ahead so the team can handle any obstacle in the path. People are far more likely to step up when confident they have the knowledge and tools necessary for success.
Positional leaders lead by the power of their position
To be a compelling leader, you must research, plan and prepare. You must help your team feel secure and prepared for the challenges it will undertake.
(Lionel Wijesiri, a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)