Linking the Leadership’s Challenges to Life’s
Leadership challenges and leaders’ core competencies are under the microscope for tens of years now. If you have a glance at the Organisational Behaviour science field you can easily identify the various schools of though and alternative points of view on the topic. On the one hand, the “transactional” approaches emphasise on contingent rewards, expectation management and laissez-faire styles, and on the other hand “transformational” approaches are on the table, which put leaders’ focus on individualised consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and idealised influencing. In parallel, theories that focus on “followers” mirror the above concepts vis-à-vis leadership. How do the above sound to you? I bet you will say “confusing” or “too complicated” ☺
This post is not about inventing new concepts on organisational leadership and the core competencies required to overcome the challenges. No, no… Mirroring my personal feelings which arise from endless question marks, I feel the need to express my concerns on how can a person utilise the most important competencies of leadership and use them to overcome the challenges in life? Either those refer to day-to-day problems or to long-term goals. As always, I will try to do so in a unique and creative way. Shall we jump into it? Let me motivate you with a question first…
Can you imagine a better version of you?
Leadership Challenges and Leaders’ Core Competencies
Before I give you my point of view on things, I believe it will be helpful if I devote some time summarising the concepts. Today everyone agrees that leadership is critical in the Organisation Behaviour field. The science’s scope is to analyse behaviours so as to help organisations achieve the greatest levels of effectiveness and performance (in all levels – individual, group and organisational). Simple as that. Do you recognise the two keywords? Effectiveness and performance! (please hold your thoughts for a few minutes).
The Main Leadership Challenges in 2 Sentences
(Ooh, there can be so many..!)
If we look into the main challenges that organisations face today, I can easily summarise the most important ones as their complex operating environments, the uncertainty, the fast pace of change, and the diverse work environments. Moreover, we shouldn’t neglect the new status of the remote work employees, the upcoming organisational structures / cultures and the “people” factor.
The Core Competencies of Leaders in 5 Paragraphs
(Believe me, there is a LOT on the topic out there)
Firstly, leaders in order to cope with the above should be visionary and aware of the industry changes. How is technology advancing? What about the climate change? Does it affect them? Do the socio-economical trends provide opportunities or threats? How will they survive? Questions can be endless. Following the above, change needs to be managed in all levels. Leaders should have the ability of identifying what needs to be done, by when, and who needs to do it.
Secondly, utilising their power they need to foster cultures of change and innovation within organisations. They need to identify their followers and promote the right politics and tactics so as to make sure that the organisation’s strategic vision and mission is on course. At the same time they must ensure alignment in all aspects. Of course that is not easy at all. They need to be aware of all the important stakeholders that will assist to the organisation’s cause. They need to be able to apply different perspectives and styles whilst trying to lead or manage or communicate things.
Meanwhile, they should be able to foresee the organisation’s viability. Being a leader in any organisation one should have as a first priority the creation of a competitive advantage that will deliver profitability and long-term sustainability. How will that be achieved? Well, according to the context, leaders must identify their organisation’s strong elements. Shall they be competing on organisational culture? Adaptability and innovation? People and knowledge? Technology? What business models do they need to build to achieve that?
In addition, and regardless of the context or the organisational model, leaders should constantly think of people. As a result people will make everything happen. So, leaders will always need to make sure that their employees are satisfied, motivated and engaged. They need to build mechanisms, structures and control systems that constantly maintain feedback and communication. They also need to identify the right factors (intrinsic and extrinsic) that drive the motivation and commitment in any organisation. Correct goal and reward systems should be in place. All the above connect to the ability to develop the right organisational design that will ultimately lead to enhanced performance and effectiveness of every individual, team, department and so forth. Always based on the organisation’s strategy and objectives.
Last but not least, leaders should be empathetic. They need to have the ability of monitoring not only their emotions but also the feelings and emotions of others, so as to utilise that information towards the best possible benefit for the organisation. Having self-awareness and self-management, aids in building social awareness and relationship management. In the basis of all the aforementioned, this crucial skill can be utilised towards all directions; from which power base or leadership style to apply, to identifying the followers and utilising the right people for the right task when it comes to change, to even building the right culture within an organisation.
What About You Now..?
All the above sound so theoretical, right? Having difficulty in adjusting them to your practice? Let me help you with some questions…
Are you not a leader? Don’t you lead yourself (and your life’s outcome) with your decisions every single day? What about the dynamics (family, children, friends, work and so forth) that affect your micro- and macro-environment? Is everything in your life certain? Isn’t change constant and most of the things volatile? Consequently, don’t you face diversity challenges since every person that surrounds you is different? What behaviours, actions and control mechanisms should be in place to face all the above and have a desired life? How can you achieve your goals? Is luck something you should rely on or can you do something about it? Do questions generate answers? Do you need to become better at something to achieve what you want? Up to you to decide…
Your Core Competencies
Obviously I didn’t write all the above questions to stress you out ☺ On the contrary, I believe that stress can be good. My point of view is that the more you analyse yourself, the better you know you! Consequently, the better you know your competencies and skills that will help you move on and achieve your objectives.
Remember effectiveness and performance? Now you can connect the dots… Undoubtedly, you need to get things done (effectiveness). And certainly, you need to do them in a way that suits your best interest (performance). By knowing your vision, being aware and knowledgeable in regards to what’s happening in your environment will help you invaluably. Changing and adopting to situations will evolve you. Building a mentality (your culture) around your way of doing things will most likely aid in better decision making. Being empathetic (internally & externally) will help you manage all stakeholders in your life towards the right outcome.
In conclusion, you need to ask yourself, “what is my competitive advantage?” That is, “what rivals cannot copy from me?” Furthermore, “how will I deliver that value?” “How should I evolve to adopt to the situations?” You need to figure those out yourself. How do you see your life evolving? What competencies do you need to get to your destination?
There is no rule of thumb. You are one of a kind! So is your life and its challenges.Fotis Yiannakou
Just to sum up…
Challenges are plenty and vary per organisational context. But the main themes could be grouped as:
– Managing Oneself
– Envisioning a Sustainable Future for the Organisation
– Ensuring the Execution of Strategy and Monitoring Progress
– Fostering a Culture for Change and Innovation
– Managing Internal Stakeholders (and Engaging Employees)
– Managing External Stakeholders (Building Relationships, Systems and Control Networks)
There is a lot of controversy and various approaches / theories on the topic. No-one can suggest a rule of thumb. Overall some “themes” on traits seem to stand out in various researches but those should be adjusted or exploited on a contingency approach. Adaptability, strong ethics, self-organising, efficiency, learning and growth, connection and belonging are just a few.
Using the “creativity lens” one can see the similarities in the concepts. Elements of vision, mission, management, environmental analysis (and so forth) can be applied on an individual level. One needs to know how to use the tools. Simple concepts, yet difficult to apply some times! For sure the application of the tools on an individual level is a less complex process.
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