What Makes an Effective Leader?
Recently, I was invited to lead a Zoom-based discussion on the topic of leadership. The group was a comprised of experienced industry leaders representing countries from around the world. Each have an active interest in the subject of leadership and in ways they can contribute to and benefit from active, ongoing peer learning.
A list of questions was prepared in advance of our one-hour session. Here are a few:
“Has the pandemic changed the requirements of leadership?”
The general consensus of the group is that essential elements of leadership remain irrespective of external circumstances. That said, being flexible and maintaining a focus on the desired results were cited as areas of increased importance. Leading a team of people in remote settings (in many cases, with little time to fully prepare) brings a unique set of challenges. The ability to trust that your team members are focused and working effectively, despite the natural distractions inherent in working off-site, has tested leaders’ ability to shift gears and re-emphasize the outcomes that matter most. Amid a rapidly changing operating environment and uncertainty about what comes next, calm, confident, open, and honest communication was also cited.
“Does leadership differ from industry to industry?”
Aside from having a strong, working knowledge of a particular industry or profession, the group agreed that the essential skills, characteristics, and traits of effective leaders are relatively the same in most settings.
“Are effective leaders made or born?”
This question is almost certain to inspire a robust discussion. The majority held that yes, leadership traits and skills can indeed be learned. What is required (in addition to the right source material and developmental offerings) is a dedication to the process of learning and of becoming an effective leader. And the realization that “leadership development” is a continuous journey with always more to learn.
“Given the trend toward more empowered employees, is leadership becoming more difficult?”
The group found that stakeholder requirements don’t change all that much, irrespective of shifting trends and customs. And what employees likely want is to be recognized sincerely, for doing meaningful work for an organization whose mission, vision, and values they can believe in.
For more information on how you can raise the level of leadership competency in your organization, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.