Effective leadership is the result of a conscious, disciplined, and sustained effort to anticipate change, evaluate challenges and impediments, set a course of action, and stick to it.
All that may sound fairly straightforward — and yet in my experience consulting with organizations, it’s actually an ongoing challenge for many leaders. The reasons for this can vary depending on the industry, the size of the organization, and other factors.
One of the most fundamental challenges with leadership is that there is no single, one-size-fits-all definition of what constitutes effective leadership. This is true across industries, and it can also be the case even within a single organization.
What’s the most common impediment I’ve seen to leaders’ success? Far and away, it’s when leaders are overtaken by the day-to-day chaos that occurs in every organization. All too often, leaders start out their day with a clear idea of what they need to accomplish, only to be sidetracked and even overwhelmed by crises (large or small) that demand their attention. Most leaders probably want to be proactive and even visionary, but all too often they end up being reactive, allowing events and challenges to define their impact.
What is more, leaders may face challenges and impediments from a wide range of directions. Broadly, there are factors such as pressure from competitors and regulators, as well as ever-changing corporate intrusions. Other issues to address include the behaviors of their front line leaders.
So, if you’re concerned about effective leadership — whether for yourself or the people who report to you — where do you start? Here are four keys to consider.
People focus on what the leader focuses on. By taking a systematic approach to reviewing these four areas, you can begin to establish a new and more effective approach to leadership. It won’t happen overnight — you know the old saying about turning a battleship — but by addressing the impediments and understanding what structures and systems you have in place, you can begin to make incremental changes that will add up to long-term improvements in the impact of your leadership.