Recent research looked at the attributes of outstanding leaders; it identified some strong and clear differences in how outstanding leaders think and behave.
Based on over 250 in-depth qualitative interviews a study by the Work Foundation provides proof that a people-centred approach to leadership results in outstanding performance. The study included leaders from across industry including: EDF Energy, Guardian Media Group, Tesco and Unilever. The research reveals three organising principles of outstanding leaders, they:
- think and act systemically, considering the whole picture
- see people as the sole route to performance and are deeply people and relationship centred rather than just people oriented
- are self-confident without being arrogant; they are aware of their strengths and their position of influence, yet use these for the benefit of their organisation and its people.
Not all of the outstanding leaders started their leadership careers with a people-focused approach; they recognised the impact of their behaviour on people and adjusted their style to achieve great results. Typically they arrived at this point through, experience, maturity, and reflection to develop a deep understanding of how their actions affected outcomes.
The skill of tuning in to what is going on with other people and then using that information to effectively manage relationships is a key element of outstanding leadership.
Start by spending some time reflecting on your own leadership, you may want to consider the following questions:
- when am I at my best as a leader?
- how would my team describe my leadership?
- what kind of leader do I want to be?
Of course, it’s how your team, peers, and managers experience you that truly defines your leadership. You can only get to know about that by asking them…sounds like a good topic for my next blog!
Source: The Work Foundation, Exceeding Expectation: the principles of outstanding leadership