If you look at the many books and articles on leadership, you begin to see certain trends. Current thinking says that leaders have to have a vision, be disciplined, and communicate effectively. I don’t disagree with any of this. But I also think there are some elements of leadership that are often overlooked
- Listening: Listening is a powerful and very under-valued skill. Especially in the world of leadership. The expectation is that leaders are supposed to be the ones talking, not listening. But there is much recent research that suggests that great leaders are ones who can listen deeply. Not just to a single conversation, but to the deeper currents both within their organization and external to their organization, through clients and their industry space.
- Conflict: Leaders should not seek it – but they also should not avoid it. Many leaders stumble because they back away from tough decisions to avoid conflict. Avoiding necessary conflict almost always backfires. In fact, in one recent organization where I worked, a leader complained about losing one of his top people. When I talked to the departing staff member, he told me that he was leaving firm because the leader wouldn’t make tough decisions the organization needed to grow. Avoiding tough decisions is an almost surefire way to frustrate top talent who know what the real issues are and want to see them engaged.
- Resilience: Every leader knows that very little goes according to plan. Leaders who succeed are the ones who can reframe their initiatives to adjust to the new challenges and persevere through the tough times.
These three qualities might seem simple, but they are often overlooked. The leaders who attend to them greatly increase their chances of success.