Leadership is often misunderstood as an innate quality that people either have or don’t. Yet research proves this isn’t true; leaders can be groomed and trained. Of course, certain personal attributes, such as assertiveness and emotional intelligence, will set some people apart. Yet the idea that one must wait patiently for someone with the right qualities to come along to become a leader is categorically false. There is no one magical combination that sets someone apart as a leader. Some leaders take time to build up their skills and confidence while others, like diamonds, can only be polished under intense pressure. Not all leaders are created the same way.
Regardless of how leaders emerge however, every one of them carry similar responsibilities, which require them to utilise specific tools to achieve desired outcomes.
This is even more essential when leadership teams are involved because not only does each leader have to consider the teams they are leading, they also have to factor in their working relationship with the other leaders at the table. Disagreements and contrary views, while generally common and healthy within leadership teams, can sometimes lead to paralysis or uncertainty when mismanaged, which can be devastating.
What should unite leadership teams is the desire to build upon the hard work of their predecessors and take their organization to greater heights, which they can only do if they excel at their positions.
Here are the top three things that leadership teams everywhere need in order to achieve real results during their tenure, each of them as vital as the next.
1) Decision Making Tools
Leaders make decisions; there is no escaping this one vital burden that all leaders shoulder. The best leaders of large corporations will need to strike a fine balance between being bold enough to challenge the competition and being prudent enough to minimise risk. They often rely on data provided by their subordinates. Some rely on the instincts they have spent decades nurturing. Either way, there is no denying that making the right call at the right juncture, especially within the context of today’s challenging environment, often mean the difference between profit and loss.
For leadership teams, there is another layer to navigate: leaders often must agree on a decision as a team.
At PEPWorldwide Asia, we use our Impact Map to ensure that the decisions we make are the right ones. After all, everyone wants the course of action they choose to generate positive outcomes for theirs teams and their organizations. Our Impact Map has become essential to its many users in plotting out the many potential outcomes of the various options available, allowing us to make informed decisions; it has become the decision-making tool of choice for many high-performing leaders.
2) People Management Kit
The very word “leader” comes from the Old English noun “lædan” or “to guide, bring forward”. The very idea of a leader has thus always been predicated upon the people they lead. Thus, people management isn’t just central to a leader’s role, a leader is intimately defined by how they manage their people.
It is thus essential for leaders to have the tools necessary to guide the people who rely on them to lead the way. As a leadership team, this translates to having a people management plan in place, which will then determine the set of tools available to the leadership team to execute that plan.
We can think of this set of tools as a People Management Kit.
Because people and People Management are both complex and complicated, People Management Kits should encompass a rather wide variety of hard and soft tools, each tailored for a specific purpose related to managing, developing and capitalising on the employees of their organization. The exact tools themselves may vary from industry to industry and company to company depending on their specific needs but most of them are relevant in some way to all corporations.
Most leaders will need something to facilitate team communication (Outlook, Slack) and perhaps another for the occasional team building exercise (Staff Retreats). They should also have tools to keep track of the work they are delegating to the teams and individuals taking instruction from them. Conflict resolution, negotiation, benefits, even learning and development policies (3-Day PEP), all comes under People Management.
With the right tools being used in tandem with the right plans, leadership teams will be able to engage, activate and energize the energy and talent of the people they work with to bring forth great results, even when working against the odds. That’s often the only thing that we remember most great leaders for.
3) Strategic Framework
Leadership teams of large organizations often inherit strategic plans and frameworks from their predecessors. These include things like mission statements, company vision, core values, operational conventions, business development tactics and key objectives.
In fact, leaders are often chosen based on their ability to either sustain the current strategic framework that’s already in place or to build upon them. There are times, however, when a new leadership team is set up precisely to overturn or revamp old structures, ideas and procedures, especially in today’s age of uncertainty and disruption.
Either way, leadership teams serve as the source and enforcers of whatever strategic framework that a company must have in order to distinguish themselves from their competition and progress forward. By providing a sound strategic framework and implementing policies and procedures that adhere to that framework closely, leadership teams will not only provide long-term clarity and direction to their organizations but also clear short-term goals and the next steps that need to be taken.
This allows everyone to move towards the same direction in concert, which minimises the paralysis that’s caused by confusion.
Leading with Knowledge
The best, most confident leaders are often also the most agile and adaptable, and those who are agile and adaptable are often the best equipped in terms of the experience, the skills and the tools they have at their disposal. Truly effective leaders however have the knowledge to use what they have at their disposal to make the right decisions, provide guidance to their organization and provide long-term strategic vision.
About the Contributor:
Hidhir Razak is the Corporate Relations Manager of PEPWorldwide Asia. An ardent believer of the power of storytelling and its unique ability to bring people and communities together, Hidhir is a reader, writer, and researcher by training. His articles have appeared on The Middle Ground, Yahoo Singapore, and Poetry.sg while his creative works have appeared in numerous anthologies and collections in Singapore. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he specialised in English and Creative Writing.