In a recent course on Leadership a wide range of inspirational leaders were suggested by participants. Ranging from the well-known ‘greats’; Sir Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King to the more controversial; Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Sir Richard Branson and Bill Gates. What do these inspiring figures have in common other than their ability to inspire others?
Which great leaders inspired you? Were they from the world of sport; Muhammed Ali, Pele, Stirling Moss? Or great explorers; Raleigh, Hillary, Shakleton? Or from the scientific world; Newton, Darwin, Einstein? What, if any, qualities or characteristics do all great leaders have in common?
Great leaders certainly inspire a lot of analysis and evaluation. There are numerous leadership theories around and shelves of books on the subject all trying to pin down those elusive qualities that make some individuals stand out from the rest. In reality, can these qualities be specified and, further more, can they be learnt by others?
These previously mentioned leaders are clearly very aspirational, larger than life characters. What about a more realistic view of what demonstrates leadership behaviour at the real world business level? When implementing leadership development work we always seek to understand why some people show greater leadership behaviour than others. We have found these exemplars have a particular approach to their work that is informed by a certain mind-set. We have distilled some of what these leadership focused people do into a 10 point checklist below, see how many you pro-actively do currently:
- Keep a record of your accomplishments
- Maintain an up-to-date CV, aligned to career goals
- Have a credible walk away position from your current role/employer which you will action if you don’t believe you are achieving your career aims
- Look to update your network and manage your contacts
- Work to be the ‘obvious choice’ candidate for any new opportunities
- Identify and coach your successor for greater future success
- Work hard at getting along with people and having a reputation for being helpful, resourceful and supportive
- Work at deepening your point of view about how your market sector and functional specialism are developing, and the likely changes they will be going through – you try to develop a personal vision
- Take responsibility for your career and your current position
- Work to further your professional training and development