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Leading From the Front – and Every Angle

Posted on August 6, 2012

Enter a bookstore at any major airport and you’ll see a section on ‘leadership’.

Some books have a general scope, offering advice on leadership laws, levels of leadership, 10 steps for effective leadership and even leadership for introverts! Others, written by prominent leaders such as Rudolph Giuliani, Steve Jobs and Colin Powell offer leadership lessons based on experience.

But what these books have in common is the encouragement they offer us all to ‘lead’ and influence people, no matter what position we occupy in an organisation.

What is leadership?

Leadership isn’t management and it isn’t developmentManagement is transactional, concerned with today’s activities and their results. Development is task-specific, providing a solution to an identified gap in knowledge or expertise. Leadership, however, is transformational. It is about aspiration, modelling the way and taking a long-term view of success.

Leadership is everyone’s business

Leadership is about organisational influence. It is working with people to accomplish their goals and the organisation’s goals. That’s why leadership is often the natural fit for the organisation’s most senior person – the Managing Director or CEO. If leadership is, however, about getting the best out of people, then it should be a characteristic of anyone with direct reports, irrespective of business unit or functional areas, in an organisation.

Leadership spin offs

Leadership is also about the evolution of people and groups. And it is important to focus on leadership even when there are immediate challenges that require management, and skills shortages that require development. Yes, skills need to be developed, tasks need to be managed, but people also need to be encouraged in leadership, resulting in:

  • efficient and productive teams that aspire to a set of goals;
  • confident, competent team members who collaborate to achieve those goals; and
  • more open, two-way communication in an environment that fosters contribution, energy and resourcefulness.

But there’s a greater reward.

Leadership faces and embraces change

Leadership and change go hand-in-hand. It builds cultural change within an organisation, creating a loyal team of high-performers who evolve together for greatness.  Increasing pressures make organisational change inevitable. But by encouraging and equipping leaders in all areas of your organisation, you will have the right people to navigate an increasingly competitive marketplace.  The challenge is to look beyond training and development and towards optimising people; identifying their goals, filling any gaps, and using their best qualities.

Leadership breaks the mould

We can go beyond traditional sales team development models and look at leadership for the:

  • marketing team;
  • human resources team;
  • regulatory affairs team;
  • finance team;
  • supply chain team;
  • market access team;
  • medical team; and, definitely,
  • the senior leadership team.

Next time you’re at the airport, take a moment to review the range of leadership books – then call Commercial Eyes for ideas on how we can help you drive a leadership culture in your organisation.