Special Issue on: The Leader Within Us

Management is getting things done… through others. Supervisors are managers. You cannot produce all the excepted results by yourself. You need the contribution of others. It is fair to say that the key to being an effective supervisor is leadership. Managing, directing and leading are virtually synonymous terms. What then is leadership? It is the ability to influence employees to do what must be done to achieve goals… to produce the results planned and expected.

Some of the characteristics of effective leaders are:

  • Charisma, amiability, appropriate power base
  • Desire to assume responsibility and to accomplish something
  • Initiative, audacity and originality in the choice of objectives and means to achieve them
  • Energy and perseverance in the pursuit of objectives
  • Self-confidence
  • Capacity to resist stress and frustrations
  • Willingness to make decisions and to accept the consequences
  • Intelligence
  • Ability to communicate orally
  • Ability to establish personal contacts.

According to Kouzes and Posner, two leadership gurus, to fully understand what leadership is all about one must not only look at leadership practices, but also consider what FOLLOWERS expect, want and value in a leader. In order of priority they are:

  • Honesty/consistency
  • Competence
  • Inspiration and
  • Vision/mission/goals/agenda

These are all desirable characteristics, which we would all like to possess. But there are many effective and efficient supervisors who do not seem to have all of these characteristics.

Remember:
Effectiveness is measured by whether or not you get the job done and produce results – “doing the right things.”
Efficiency is measured by whether or not you get the job done within the resources allocated or by the degree to which you expend the fewest resources “doing things right”.

There are six strategies to build and maintain credibility.

  1. Clarify your values:
    • You communicate those values by what you say and do
    • Different leaders convey who they are, what their goals are and what they stand for to those they lead
    • This has a significant impact upon their followers’ performance and attitudes
  2. Identify what your people want:
    • Stay sensitive/responsive to employee’s wants and concerns by giving and getting feedback
    • Leaders who only act in their own self-interest, ignoring the needs of followers, lost TRUST
  3. Build consensus:
    • Trust the experience and ideas of employees
    • Involve other people in your decision making although you are ultimately accountable
  4. Communicate shared values with enthusiasm:
    • Followers want and need leaders who can communicate shared values with fervor and conviction
    • who have energy
    • who are involved
    • who express genuine passion for what the organization is working to accomplish
  5. Stand up for your beliefs:
    • Followers do not follow people who lack confidence in their own decisions
    • Must be open to alternatives and listen but also take a stand
  6. Lead by example:
    • Followers expect not just to be led but to be taught and to develop leadership within the organization and to do this by example
    • “Actions speak louder than words”
    • A leader must be a role model and not practice the old adage “do as I say not as I do”.
Leadership is not about doing it yourself. It is about building relationships with others. The credibility factor is at the heart of those relationships. A leader’s credibility or believability is what enables followers in an organization to achieve the extraordinary.

What do your followers really think of you? A good leader should regularly take a moment to look at his/her performance as seen through the eyes of their followers. For each of the following statements, place a checkmark under the most appropriate answer – ALWAYS, OFTEN or RARELY.
Answer as honestly as you can.

WOULD MY FOLLOWERS SAY THAT:

  1. My actions are consistent with my words, written or spoken
    Always_____ Often _____ Rarely ____
  2. I respond to questions honestly and in a timely manner.
    Always_____ Often _____ Rarely ____
  3. All members of my team receive the same information from me, and know where they stand with me at all times.
    Always_____ Often _____ Rarely ____
  4. I have a grasp of my department’s operation.
    Always_____ Often _____ Rarely ____
  5. I understand my follower’s jobs and what it takes for them to get them done, and my expectations match that understanding.
    Always_____ Often _____ Rarely ____
  6. I take the time to fully understand a situation before making changes.
    Always_____ Often _____ Rarely ____
  7. I am enthusiastic and an energetic leader.
    Always _____Often _____Rarely_____
  8. My leadership style inspires others to do their best.
    Always_____ Often _____ Rarely ____
  9. I have a clear vision of where my organization and/or department is going and a viable plan to get there.
    Always _____ Often ______Rarely_____
  10. I communicate both my vision and my plan enthusiastically to members of my team.
    Always_____ Often ______Rarely______

For every Always answer, give yourself 10 points; for every Often, give yourself 5 points; for every Rarely, give yourself 0 points. Then rate your credibility according to the following:

85 – 100 points – You enjoy high credibility among your followers.
75 – 85 points – You have good credibility.
65 – 75 points – You have only fair credibility.
65 or fewer points – Your credibility needs improvement.

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