Leadership has always preoccupied people's minds. Leadership has as many definitions as there are people. However, I am convinced that a good leadership is the alpha and omega, if we want to succeed in business, politics or entertainment, that is in all areas of human life.
I think the leadership is basically about influence. The most important feature of a leader is to create trust in employees. I think the leadership is basically about taking responsibility of employees. I think that leadership is 30% innate and 70% it can be learned.
Leadership is in my opinion not a static but a dynamic thing. Leadership changes over time as many other things. Leadership has not been receached until the end. On the contrary new insights can still be made.
In my view the main characteristics of a good leader are courage, competence and high moral. A good leader may also have other features that are important. These can be good judgment, prudence (the President Mauno Koivisto), tranquility (Finnish politician Lauri Ihalainen) and humility (Finnish listed company Exel's former CEO Ari Jokelainen). For a good leader it is vital to keep promises. Through keeping promises a leader creates her/his credibility. Leadership is not a question of age or gender.
One of the most important features of a leader is the ability to set (mainly moral/ethical) borders. Borders create security in society. A woman can be just as good (or bad) as a leader as man. The young person can be just as good (or bad) as a leader as a more experienced person. Leadership is not quantum physics and fluid dynamics, which are very theoretical disciplines. Leadership can be fully learned through life experience, good leadership seminars and good leadership books. That does not mean that excellent leadership is an easy task. On the contrary, excellent leadership demands lots of effort. I have learned leadership, inter alia, from the following people/institutions: Gennady Zyuganov (Russian opposition politician), Bill Hybels (senior pastor of the American Willow Creek church), John C. Maxwell (American pastor, leadership instructor- and writer), Giuseppe Trapattoni (Italian football coach), Anders Oldenburg (Finnish equity portfolio manager), Jack Welch (American former business executive), the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), that is the US Federal Criminal Police, Frank Herbert (the late American writer), Timo Soini (Finnish Christian politician), Mats Sundin (retired Swedish ice hockey player), Lee Haney (retired American Christian bodybuilder), Nicole Kidman (Australian actor), Jari Sarasvuo (Finnish businessman), an anonymous African tribal chief, William Wallaces character in the movie "Braveheart" and from Bible.
I think every aspect of life requires a slightly different type of leadership. I think that the characteristics of a good leader (courage, competence and high moral) does not change. Gennady Zyuganov, Timo Soini and African tribal chief represent the political leadership. Bill Hybels, John C. Maxwell represent the leadership of the congrigation. Anders Oldenburg, Jack Welch and Jari Sarasvuo represent leadership in the business world. Giuseppe Trapattoni, Lee Haney and Mats Sundin represent leadership in sports. And so on.
FBIs (Federal Bureau of Investigation) motto is "fidelity, bravery and integrity".
FBI's core values are:
- Rigorous obedience to the Constitution of the United States
- Respect for the dignity of all those we protect
- Uncompromising personal integrity and institutional integrity
- Accountability by accepting responsibility for our actions and decisions
- and the consequences of our actions and decisions
- Leadership, both personal and professional
Jack Welch served as CEO for a large US-based company General Electric during 1981-2001. He is the author (together with his wife Suzy Welch) of the book "Winning", which explains how people can succeed in their careers, as well as in their private life. The book is in my opinion very good. According to Welch at the workplace must prevail freedom of speech and dignity. Jack Welch explains these concepts as follows: "my the conviction is this: every person in the world wants to make her voice heard and wants to be a valuable, everyone deserves to have her voice heard and be respected". The book also has the best definition of trust, which I have read: "What is trust? I could give the dictionary definition, but in practice one knows the importance of trust, when one feels it. Trust borns when leaders are open and outspoken and keep their word. As simple as that".
One chapter of the book "Winning" deals only about leadership. In the book Welch lists 10 rules of a good leadership. They are:
1. Leaders develop their team tirelessly and exercise every meeting as an opportunity to evaluate and coach the team and to infuse self-confidence in them.
2. Leaders ensure that the people see the vision and live accordingly.
3. Leaders infuse everybody with positive energy and optimism.
4. Leaders create a confidential spirit in the team by means of the frankness, openness and thanksgiving.
5. Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and rely on their instincts.
6. Leaders are nearly skeptically curious, ask questions incessantly and ensure that their questions are answered with deeds.
7. Leaders inspire risktaking and learning by showing example.
8. Leaders celebrate.
According Jack Welch, leadership is full of paradoxes. For example, rules 3 and 6 and 5 and 7 are inconsistent. According to Jack Welch "paradoxes belong to leadership. Because of that leadership is fun; every day is a challenge. Each day offers a new opportunity to develop at work, which one can not ever learn to master completely. One can only give everything to it. Is is so it happens".
Bill Hybels writes about leadership mainly from the point of view of congrigation. For sure, many Hybels ideas can be also applied to secular organizations. Bill Hybels central idea is that the "local church is the hope of the world". This of course opens only to Christians. Bill Hybels is the author of the books "Courageous Leadership" and "Axiom". I think both books are very good leadership guides. In his book "Courageous Leadership" Bill Hybels describes the charasteristics he looks for in emerging leaders. They are:
1. Influence; potential leaders have always a natural ability to influence people.
2. Character; when I find someone who has influence, I try to notice whether he has the honesty, humility, stability, ability to teach, integrity to take care of her influence.
3. Interpersonal skills; my definition of interpersonal skills includes sensitivity to others ideas and emotions, as well as the ability to listen to - other people's ideas. I'm looking for people who genuinely care about other people, and for people for whom others are more than means to achieve goals.
4. Execution; I'm looking for the action-oriented people who like to take the initiative. These are the kind of people who say in the restaurants: "Lets order. Lets rock".
5. Intelligence; when I say that I'm looking for intelligence, I do not necessarily mean that I'm looking for a high IQ. That's what I'm looking for in potential leaders, is the mental speed. I am looking for sharp minded people who have sense.
These five leadership qualities are according to Hybel not an exhaustive list. According to Hybels they provide a good framework for initial assessment.
John C. Maxwell is the author of the book "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership", a book which fully corresponds to its name. The book is in my opinion very good. The most central laws are, in my view:
Law of Influence (the true measure of leadership is influence nothing more, nothing less).
Law of Addition (leaders add value by serving others).
The Law of Solid Ground (trust is the foundation of leadership).
John C. Maxwell gives the following examples about the three laws:
Law of Influence: At the beginning of the Indian War Abraham Lincoln was captain, but at the end of the war he was a soldier. What happened? He was defeated by Law of Influence.
Law of Addition: Jim Sinegal founded the retail chain Costco with Jeffrey H. Brotman in 1983. Currently, Costco is the world's second largest retail chain after Wal-Mart with a revenue of 116.5 billion. US$ and 117 000 employees. How is this possible? Jim Sinegal (and Jeffrey H. Brotman) applied the Law of Addition.
The Law of Solid Ground: Maxwell says that we build trust by consistently exemplifying competence, connection, and character, and that we must treat trust as our most precious asset. He later writes, How do leaders earn respect? By making sound decisions, by admitting their mistakes, and by putting whats best for their followers and the organization ahead of their personal agendas. This is because, no leader can break trust with his people and expect to keep influencing them, and, as we already know, leadership is influence, nothing more.
In the book "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" is the employment agency Ajilon Finances an opinion poll asking American workers the most important aspect of the person supervising them should have. Below are the results of the survey:
1 Leadership by showing example 26%
2 High ethics or moral 19%
3 Craftmanship 17%
4 Fairness 14%
5 Intelligence and know-how in general 13%
6 Knowledge of employees 10%
According to Maxwell employees want above all leaders, whose speeches and deeds are congruent with each other, in other words, leaders who have integrity.
Anders Oldenburg considers leadership mainly in the point of view of the business world.
In Anders Oldenburgs view:
-Leadership is a crucial thing.
-Human assessment is always subjective.
-Integrity and open communication are signs of a good corporate leadership.
-Good company management aims at the same time to maximize the mutual benefit of the customers, employees and owners - roughly in that order.
-Positive signs are managements transparency and honesty, particularly when things go wrong.
-Positive signs are managements transparency and honesty, particularly when things go wrong for the company, as well as (in all economic situations) independent thinking instead of repeating general mantras.
-Good companies almost invariably recruit leaders from within the company.