Tuesday, 29 April 2014

What makes a great leader?

I’ve taken the inspiration for this blog post from another TED talk, this time from Roselinde Torres, all about what makes a great leader.

Torres takes time to ask some very pertinent and topical questions within the opening lines of her speech – the ones that particularly struck a chord for me were:

  •        Are leadership programmes preparing people for the future or what’s been there before?
  •        Why are leadership gaps widening despite growing investment?

She continues by talking about the false positives that are created by using the traditional leadership measures (360, leadership engagement indexes etc.) – a great point and thought for the those in this development field for what the future measurements need to look like.  Using the same measure year on year might give you consistency for comparison but it hardly moves with the changing environment we’re all in.

On the programmes point, controversially for some I have often struggled to see the value in leadership programmes that are either ‘sheep dip’ experiences for large groups of people or designed way ahead of time of knowing what a group’s collective needs are – why jump the gun and assume what a group might need when you could end up completely disengaging a massive chunk of your audience? On the flip side, I’ve also seen brilliant examples of modules and full programmes that have been delivered and had a lasting impact, but they’re always made up of multiple ‘interventions’, have been thoughtfully pulled together with a clear purpose and consists of ways of making the development stick once the course has been completed.

Roselinde positions that there are 3 questions that will help identify and expose great leadership.  As a question lover, these have really hit home with me:
  • Where are you looking to anticipate challenges? (i.e. who are you meeting with, where are you travelling, what’s in your calendar – remembering that great leaders see around corners!)
  •  What is the diversity measure of your network? (professional and personal, biology and thinking)
  • Are you courageous enough to move away from something that has made you successful in the past? (you don’t go along to get along, not just talking about risk taking but actually doing it)

Since watching this session, I’ve found myself asking these questions of myself and others around me to really pin down what I value in a leader and how I want my style and approach to change an evolve.  Next time you find yourself reviewing your direction and what you need to be developing, borrow these questions from Rosalinde and I’m certain when you’re honest with yourself you’ll find it enlightening and focusing!

Happy leading x

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