Friday, 5 October 2012

The Top Ten Leadership Skills

Why leadership is critical for success in any organization , is a subject which deserves separate space .But if you accept this as a given fact , then the most logical next question is :what are the skills of a a leader.(I presume we are talking about great leaders).Books like "Measure of a Leader" by Aubrey C. Daniels and James E. Daniels and "The Fifth Discipline . . The art & practice of the learning organization"by Peter M. Senge, touch these aspects  with some clarity .
              We can enlist hundreds of skills which we need to acquire  to develop  leadership in us.But some skills are critical and far more important .I reflected on this aspect and based on my observation , study ,my  exposure   as a senior civil servant in one of the biggest states of India and reflection , I was tempted to draw up my own list of the top ten skills of a leader.I confess that it is neither original , nor final .In fact , I have decided to monitor it from time to time and make changes , if needed.
                In what follows , I will describe these ten skills .Those who differ , are welcome to comment or write to me .It is interesting to assess one self periodically  regarding where one ranks in relation to these skills , and then think of the ways to improve one's performance , and actually perform better as a leader .There is no doubt that the better we are on these leadership skills , the better and more effective will be the performance of the organization to which we belong .

1.Personal mastery:Self- motivation , with a passion , a purpose , a meaning , hope ,optimism, positive thoughts and a high mojo .To be able to exercise leadership , we have to be self-motivated and ignited.This is possible only if we have a purpose and a meaningful mission .To my mind , this is the top most quality a leader must have and regain if he or she has lost it .We must be full of hope and optimism.We should have a high mojo and positive thoughts.
2.Self-management , self-organization , self-control, discipline including time management.We must bring order in our life , both in terms of time and space .This requires a strong discipline , a sense of cleanliness , avoidance of waste and also keeping our consumption to minimal levels .

3.Values , character , honesty, spiritual qualities and fortitude despite obstacles.We need to have faith in ourselves and courage of our convictions .This requires continuous practice with a sense of detachment .

4.Need for change .Building shared vision .Communication .Leading change .We must be able to feel the need for change in ourselves and in our organization, and we should make every member of our organization to feel the same need for change .Then we should develop a shared vision of things to come after the change .Finally we should have the skills to lead the change to its conclusion and reach our vision .

5.Team learning , coaching, mentoring , training , teaching , motivating , inspiring,  ensuring accessibility and mutual respect between leader and followers.A leader must be able to collect people together so that they think and work as a team .

6.Systems thinking , having a big picture.A leader should not only see the bigger picture but ensure that all the members of the organization also see the bigger picture .

7.Ability to manage , competence.We should not only lead but ensure that the things are efficiently managed within the organization .Ensuring that management is done , is also the task of leadership.

8.Confidence , decisiveness and sound decision making .A leader should be able to decide on issuesw and not dither endlessly .

9.Flexibility , adaptiveness, technology , innovation , creativity .A leader should be able to prepare the organization for flexibility .The organization should be able to adapt to new decisions , policies , strategies , technologies and innovative processes and practices .

10.Mental models , mindsets, paradigms.A leader should not only be able to question and change his or her own mental models , but also ensure that the whole organization is able to question and change deeply held but obsolete mental models .
Note:           The place in the list which I have allocated to a  leadership skill in the above list , need not  reflect the relative importance  of that skill in relation to others .