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  • Writer's pictureWendy Jameson

Leadership Effectiveness

I originally wrote and published this in 2006 for my Mind Matters column in a local magazine, but many of the principles still hold. What do you think?


I’ve got stacks of leadership books on my shelves. Books about Developing Your Inner Leader, Coaching Leaders, Servant Leadership, Leadership Below the Surface. There must be hundreds of leadership books in libraries and bookstores. I guess that’s because people like me keep buying them.

What is it about leadership that is so mysterious that we need so many books? Perhaps it’s because so many of us fail at it so miserably. Or maybe it’s just that we all want be effectively led.

In what I do, I have the opportunity to meet with business leaders of all backgrounds working in all sorts of industries doing all sorts of things. What strikes me more than anything is how badly every one of them wants to build a lasting company, take care of their employees and leave an enduring legacy. What they don’t know is how to do it…well, not very well at least.

Here are my top five things to do to become an effective leader:

  1. Listen. Really listen to what people are saying. That means taking an active interest in people, asking lots of questions, giving feedback on your understanding of what you heard and generally giving the impression that you understand. This activity alone, done well, will build trust and foster strong relationships. In fact, I’ve often said, “The less I say, the more people like me.” Give people the opportunity to express themselves, and they’ll love you for it.

  2. Connect to Passion and Compassion. What really makes you tick? What do you get super-charged about that you want to share with the world? That’s your passion. Connect with it, and you won’t need anything but that fire to light your way. Compassion is the flip side: it’s about connecting with someone else’s passion, feeling what they feel, empathy in the truest sense. Having compassion enables empathy and empathy connects you to those who follow you.

  3. Communicate Your Vision. It’s one thing to have a vision, yet another to communicate it well to your employees (team, volunteers, etc). So, yeah, you have to have a pretty clear idea of what you want, and then you have to tell people about it…clearly, concisely and frequently. People want to know they’re part of something bigger, and they willingly give themselves to a vision they believe in.

  4. Reflect. Leaders need to stay ahead of the game. They need to look inside, ahead and around them and spend time mentally processing what all they saw means to them. With reflection comes clarity and focus. Quiet time also lowers stress and garners peacefulness, something elusive if you’re running a small business.

  5. Act. Standing around and wondering if this tactic or that strategy would be better won’t get you anywhere. While there’s certainly value in considering options, in the end, you have to do something. Half the time it doesn’t matter which action you choose, so much as you choose, understanding that even not choosing is doing something. It’s a something that’s a nothing. Be proactive, not reactive, and if you do numbers 1-4, you’ll be prepared.

Okay, so maybe five isn’t enough to make for an exceptional leader...what makes your list?


This is the first in a series of re-publications of my Mind Matters column.

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