Some styles are more successful than others.
Adapting in a rapidly changing world requires discernment. Yet, keeping up at such an accelerated pace so that organizations don’t lose momentum in a constantly evolving climate, leaves leaders poised on the precipice between transformation or operating as usual. As a result, they often feel as though there is no time left to think about how and why they do things as they do; however, if they don’t, they become outdated and less effective than their newer counterparts. Updating leadership skills allows them to progress as leaders. Keeping current is imperative for businesses to thrive and for leaders to remain successful. In an era where people are laid off and unable to find comparable roles, following prevailing trends is one of the best preventative measures that anyone can take. As a business leader, have you changed how you think about your craft?
While every organization is unique, there is a general leadership mindset—a leadership operating system. When leaders update their operating systems, they can then tailor behaviors to the unique situations they face. Below are key leadership mindsets and behaviors that effective and successful leaders employ, published in Leadership 2050: Critical Challenges, Key Contexts and Emerging Trends, written by Susan Cannon, Mike Morrow-Fox and Maureen Metcalf.
1. Be professionally humble. Astute leaders care more about doing the right thing than being right. They consistently give credit to their team and others when they succeed. Consequently, teams know they get credit for their work and it propels them to succeed again.
2. Have an unwavering commitment to the right action. A thoughtful leader consistently makes decisions based on what action will most effectively meet the organization’s mission, even if doing what is right for others isn’t the easiest path.
3. Be a 360-degree thinker. In making decisions, a prudent leader consistently considers not only the immediate group or even company; she evaluates the industry and the trends driving future success.
4. Be intellectually versatile. Value learning and draw from a broad range of topics to solve business problems. Broad interests bolster the ability to solve problems with novel and inventive approaches.
5. Be highly authentic and reflective. Self-awareness shows. It isn’t a hidden trait—others can sense it. They know when a leader’s behavior is consistent and guided by principles. They know what to expect, as do colleagues and clients. This consistent and authentic behavior builds trust and promotes an environment of high performance.
6. Inspire followership. Inspiring others is probably one of the most critical characteristics of a true leader. Leaders that inspire followership can have the tough conversations that are required to maintain a high performing group without sacrificing warmth and understanding. A leader that inspires laughs often and tries to keep the tone lighthearted whenever possible even though the work they perform is quite serious—and they have the ability to laugh at themselves. This creates an environment of trust.
7. Be innately collaborative. Exceptional leaders continually seek input from experts and those who will be impacted by key decisions. They understand that people want to be considered and create an environment that promotes differing points of view, knowing that multiple perspectives result in better outcomes. In many organizations, people are encouraged to agree—exceptional leaders encourage people to differ so they can find the most robust solution.
During times of significant change, organizations that continue to thrive will be those that perpetually innovate and evolve. This level of innovation and evolution requires leaders to modernize how they lead as they modernize their organizations. Developing this mental operating system is the foundation to building the capacity to innovate at the required pace. The most effective leaders are already continual learners, now they need to not only learn and change behaviors; they need to transform their mindset.
Maureen Metcalf is founder, CEO, and board chair of Metcalf & Associates; and is an executive advisor, consultant, speaker and author.