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Five tips for effective leadership

Path of progress: ensuring people understand the path forward is an essential part of realising organisational goals

1. Create a compelling vision of the future — where are we going, and why?

To lead, you need followers so ask yourself why people should follow you. One powerful reason would be to create a compelling view of the future with an emphasis upon the payoff for people (answering the “what’s in it for me?” question). By doing this, you create a shared purpose for the organisation and those within it. Get them to see what you see.

2. Show the path – how are we going to get there?

Leading people into something new can generate fear within your followers. Leaders need to show the process and principles to be applied when pursuing the future Goals of the Organisation and act as a beacon when people are unsure of the way. This will engender ownership.

3. Challenge the norm

Even if things appear to be working, the application of a little creative destruction can drive the organisation forward in innovative and creative ways. Do not be afraid to change your process or any other sacred cows. This inevitably involves taking calculated risks and will need the leader to have some tolerance of error and failure in order to deliver the common purpose. Such forbearance allows people to own the organisational purpose without fear.

4. Empower and enable people to act

A leader without followers is just a person. So get them involved in delivering your vision. Empowering people to deliver the common purpose and the goals of the organisation engenders buy-in and trust. And where possible, remove any obstacles to achievement. Empowerment leads to individuals feeling valued and being prepared to walk the extra mile. They will own the vision of the future.

5. Encourage the heart

Align the values of the organisational and the individuals to help deliver the common purpose and goal. Keep hope and faith alive through positive reinforcement of the required behaviours and celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small, in order to make staff feel their efforts are worthwhile and to allow them to keep ownership of the organisational purpose.

David Joel is a chartered director and course leader with the Institute of Directors. He was recently in Bermuda to lead a two-day Certificate in Company Direction course, the director’s role in leading the organisation, and a workshop entitled “Leading Strategic Change”.