Not only are leaders able to articulate their vision, they actually do so. That’s what I mean by communicative. They frequently impact the environment by speaking to it. They are present and involved and know what they want, communicating that in ways that make a favorable impression on those they depend on to get the work done.
Competent at a Basic Level
Leaders need a basic level of competence. Just enough to understand the issues and be able to evaluate talent. They should not, however, be the most technically competent of the group. If they are, that may is a sign that they have hired helpers instead of experts. It could also mean that they were promoted for the wrong reasons (the best doer rather than the best manager). Let’s face it: all over the world you can find well-run companies whose leaders are managing others who are far more competent than they are in specific tasks.
Leaders are confident, but this is a tough characteristic to describe with balance. That’s because there’s always a fair measure of self-doubt with leadership. On that other end of the spectrum, too little confidence makes for ineffective leadership. So there’s a balance: enough confidence to inspire those following a leader, but not so much confidence that it leads them astray.
Leaders who take too long to make decisions, or don’t make them decisively enough, are bound to struggle. To be an effective leader you must be a risk taker. In chaos and ambiguity, you must defy momentum and decide about direction and speed. It’s fine–and even desirable–to tolerate ambiguity, but that analog environment cannot prevent digital decisions from being made. If when you finally make a decision the employees wonder why it’s taken you so long, you’ve waited too long to decide.
Leaders are direct. Not rude, but direct. The difference lies in the intent and result. Being direct is motivated by a desire to truly communicate in a means whereby everything that’s necessary is included without any ancillary information or clutter. Hurting someone with directness is an example of poor leadership because it gets in the way of good, honest communication. Leaders are direct so that there’s no confusion about what’s being said or what’s behind it.
Leaders are disciplined. That means that they get things done, do what they say, plan and execute. They can set goals, control their actions, and systematically work toward a set of accomplishments.
It’s not one unmet promise after another but real accomplishment, little by little. You can easily see this in the world of ideas. What keeps good ideas from coming to life is usually the lack of discipline, not the lack of good ideas.
David Baker speaks to, writes for, and consults with the marketing industry via ReCourses, Inc. He’s worked with more than 600 firms individually and thousands of people have been through Recourses seminars.
David owns RockBench Publishing Corp., a traditional and electronic publisher of thought leadership content through which he’s authored and published “Managing (Right) for the First Time”, available via Amazon; and “Financial Management of a Marketing Firm”, available at ReCourses.