Many people in leadership positions were originally appointed due to their technical skills and their individual capabilities, not for their natural abilities in collaborating and working well with others to achieve a result. A classic example would be Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, who admits “No doubt I have much to learn about a collective way of leading” after accusations from Lord Foulds that his style is “based on dishonesty, dividing lines and bullying..”
Recent research by The Centre for Creative Leadership, exploring the leadership skills most needed looking ahead suggests that the top leadership skills needed are collaboration, leading change, building effective teams and influence without authority. Brown also talks about his need to learn and keep learning to make the most of the strengths he already has – as most of us do. Contrast this with the positive headline in the Times for President Obama
President Obama’s speech in Cairo set a welcome tone of respect and empathy
During tough times people need competent leaders who can focus on the bottom line and results, however they also need leaders who can connect, have empathy and give hope to others – all competencies from the emotional intelligence domain and where Obama seems to posses natural strengths. Organisations (and individual managers) who ignore these things during hard times have a danger of creating problems for the future. I remember you when the chips were down and when a connection with you was needed, not when times were smooth and unflustered.
Connecting with people is an absolute key facet of leadership – and one that many managers and leaders need to focus more on as their impact seldom matches their intention – and people judge us on our impact on them – not what we may have intended. I’ve just had the pleasure of working with some gifted high potential directors in increasing their capacity to increase their connection with others. Mr Brown may well have left his learning far too late…will you do the same?