There's something unique and different that makes a leader, and it's not about creativity or courage or integrity writes Marcus Buckingham. Excerpts with edits from an insighful and well written article:
A leader's job is to rally people toward a better future. Leaders can't help but change the present, because the present isn't good enough. They succeed only when they find a way to make people excited by and confident in what comes next.
- With leaders, the future calls to them in a voice they can't drown out. The future is more real than the present; it compels them to act.
- For a leader, the challenge is that in every society ever studied, people fear the future. The future is unstable, unknown, and therefore potentially dangerous. So in order to succeed, leaders must engage our fear of the unknown and turn it into spiritedness. By far the most effective way to turn fear into confidence is to be clear - to define the future in such vivid terms that we can see where we are headed. Clarity is the antidote to anxiety, and therefore clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader
- Often leaders come up with four or five core strengths. We hear it all the time: "Our strengths are our people, our productivity, our creativity, and our efficiency." As a leader, your job is to make people more confident about the future you're dragging them into. To that end, you need to tell them why they're going to win. There are many competitors out there. Why will we beat them? There are many obstacles in our path. Why will we overcome them? The more clearly you can answer these questions, the more confident we will be, and therefore the more resilient, the more persistent, and the more creative.
- Even if it doesn't incorporate all the reality of the world, find the edge - one edge - and talk about it all the time & also the job of a leader is to say, "Of all the things we measure, this is the most important."
If the leader can highlight a few carefully selected actions, then others will no longer have to infer the future from theoretical pronouncements about "core values" or your "mission statement." We will simply look to see what actions you take and found our faith and confidence on these. But be aware that we respond best to two types of action: symbolic action and systemic action. Effective leaders don't have to be passionate or charming or brilliant. What they must be is clear - clarity is the essence of great leadership. Show us clearly who we should seek to serve, show us where our core strength lies, show us which score we should focus on and which actions we must take, and we will reward you by working our hearts out to make our better future come true.