Leadership and who is the ideal leader has always been a trendy topic and always will be. Countries, organizations and companies will always look for the right leaders or formerly called managers.
Thousands of books have been written around the topic, lots of research has been done, days of training have been given and many words have been used to describe leadership.
One of my favorites leadership quotes is Margaret Thatcher saying “Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
So how could we describe a leader without using titles…
- A Strategic Thinker
- An Individual with High EQ
- A Good Communicationer
You can agree with all or none, maybe you have your own list because being the right leader should also be aligned with the need. You have to clarify what the climate of your organization is in order to build your own leadership style. Some organizations still believe in hierarchy and some are more flexible. In American companies, employees are expected to challenge their leaders to improve. In the Middle East this is not the case, you should always remain respectful. Some organizations find questioning each other’s ideas rude, whereas in other companies it’s the only way you can grow in your career and grow the organization.
It’s not just the origin of the company that defines the leadership style, but it’s the industry, market, people and the customers!
If we think of some well-known leaders in today’s world we can see the changes in leadership over the last few decades. It’s not the oldest person in the company with the most years of experience that becomes the head of the organization. It is the right person, who is capable of taking the organization to the next level. It’s not about the age; they may not have the most knowledge about the company or industry, but they have a vision and the capability to execute that vision within the company. You can never expect a leader to manage everything by himself/herself, the team around the leader is just as important.
Thinking with my HR brain: How can an organization decide on the right leader for the company? Is it about recruiting the right people and giving them the right training or is it much more?
I would call it much more. It’s more than what is written on the CV and making a leader requires more effort then making people sit in training for a few days. It’s not only HR’s call. The organization should define what the values and competencies for all the employees should be, and then decode these competencies with the expected behaviors for their leaders. It should be clear where the company wants to go, so you can decide who is the right captain to take you there. Of course roads may change and you may experience more challenges, but once you have the final destination you can always get back on course and head towards your target. Once you have the right leader in place within the organization, the organization will succeed at meeting goals.
Like I mentioned before, there are lots of books written around leadership, my favorite book is Sun Tzu: The Art of War. It focuses on strategy and how a leader can make the right decisions. The leadership style discussed in the book may not fully apply to today’s world, but it’s fascinating to read a book written 25 hundred years ago and make conclusions about how not to lead.
In the end it’s all about finding the right fit, maybe not so different from finding the right person in your life. So the need should be clearly defined before asking: “Should you be my leader?”