great leaders following the signposts

Are you following the sign posts?

We are all familiar with levels of attainment from school. You may have even come across Jim Collins’ (Good to Great) approach to the different levels of leadership. In this article, we’ll be concentrating on Level 5. After all, it’s worth knowing where we are headed even if we are at the beginning of the journey.

 

As a leader, going from good to great is probably the most significant and hardest task. It’s dictated in part by the law of diminishing returns. The big wins have been achieved relatively easily but this is where craft, passion, diligence, foresight and detail are your most trusted skills.

Most of us are not born great but we can develop greatness

Yet it has to be a conscious and highly thoughtful process, not something that just happens; it should certainly not be an expectation. The irony is that humility is one of the most significant hallmarks of great leaders and I don’t just mean bombastic leaders that make themselves sound great. There’s a huge difference. Jim Collins suggests there’s a duality at work here, because professional will needs to be tempered, supported and enriched by a deep personal humility. It makes sense when you consider that statement carefully. Arrogance has never been a desirable or attractive quality in any leader or colleague.

So what do you need to consider yourself on the road to level 5 leadership territory?

1. In terms of professional will, a leader that has reached this level is likely to be a catalyst- someone that asks the right questions and is professionally aware of how every day brings new opportunities to develop, grow, tweak or reflect change.

2. A great leader will be ‘bloody, bold and resolute’ in their resolve to leave no stone unturned. Producing long-term results, as well as short-term gains, are always uppermost in every decision and discussion.

3. To be a beacon, an inspiration the vision must be clear in a leader’s head. The standard and ethos must be set and adhered to whatever the pressures.

4. Having the results to back up the philosophy year on year will silence the critics and let the data speak for you.

5. As well as looking out a great leader will look inwards too. ‘Not looking out of the window but in the mirror.’ Not looking for excuses or indulging in the blame game. Professional honesty, humility and hunger for constant development are very attractive and inspirational qualities to those working around you.

6. In terms of personal humility cultivating a more circumspect approach to publicity will say more about you, in the right way, than any stunt can ever achieve. Being modest, not looking for adulation are traits of those who have made the transition from good to great.

7. Great leaders are often considered charismatic but relying on the cult of personality is not necessarily a smart move. How many companies collapse when a charismatic leader leaves? It’s not about personality it’s about process and standards and on-going motivation not blowing hot and cold.

8. Being altruistic and putting the company first sets up future growth and success. CTi (Company 1st, Team 2nd Individual 3rd) is a very different approach and one a great leader set store by.

 

So, in essence, what should you be aiming for wherever you are on your leadership journey?

1. Think tactically: effective leadership through understanding and pursuing clarity in vision and thought.

2. Competent management that develops and fulfils predetermined and fully visualised objectives

3. A willing team member that is capable of rolling up their sleeves and being part of the collective, not set apart. The achievement of a group is as important as the company or ones-self.

4. A capable individual with profound self-knowledge. A leader must set a great example and be the gold standard that inspires and also works effectively with everyone in the organisation.

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