Becoming a great leader – seven points to consider

The contemporary challenges facing corporate leaders are well documented. The context for leadership is one filled with complexity, ambiguity, volatility and uncertainty. They are challenges that aren’t going to go away or change any time soon, and if leaders hope to thrive in this new reality and context, new thinking and behaviour are required.

Here are seven things that as a leader you need consider, should you wish to be a great leader in such a context.

1.Think about how you think about leadership

Driven by a relentless deluge of “how to” insights and easy applications, the leadership market has become one of short-cuts, “five things to do”, and a host of effortless add-ons that make light of the responsibility that is leadership, reducing it to a mere role and responsibility.

Authentic leaders think about how they intend to practise and live their leadership. They understand the importance of an underpinning leadership philosophy that steers all that they do.

They know that, when it comes to the fuel to power their thinking, they dare not run dry. Smart leaders understand how they think and they know when the way in which they think will prove helpful – and when it won’t! They are not lazy when it comes to building the insights and capacity to understand their own leadership and the demands being placed on them as they exercise that leadership.

Albert Einstein once said that thinking was the “hardest work of all – that is why so few engage in it”.

2. Disengage the autopilot: be intentional in everything you do

Intentionality is one of the basic principles of a powerful theory known as Invitational Leadership. Sometimes leaders are doing the “right thing” and it is working, but they don’t really know why it is working. They get used to cruising on autopilot in such circumstances.

The problem arises when what they are doing stops working for them. Because they didn’t know why it was working in the first place, they don’t know how to fix it when it doesn’t work quite so well. Being intentional allows a leader to better understand what works and what doesn’t, and why. Being intentional directs and guides leadership action and activity in a manner that produces results and focuses effort.

Intentionality is built off the platform of a determined leadership philosophy that helps ensure that not every wind or current is considered the right one. Intentionality draws purpose out of the mundane and provides meaning to the routine.

When did you last sit down and map out a series of intentional activities to guide your day, week or month as a leader? That targeted conversation that appears totally informal? That intentional cup of coffee served in a way that sets a powerful example? That intentional “seeing” of someone who doesn’t expect you to notice them – even less, pay attention to the role they play in your organisation?

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