Dec 082014

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Dr. Earl R. Smith II

My leadership coaching practice is the source of great satisfaction and great frustration. Leadership is always easier to explain leadership than to practice it. If it becomes difficult for an organization to achieve objectives and remain focused, a close examination of the leadership styles of the senior management team is imperative. Many times, it is these styles and their impact that lie at the root of many challenges that an organization is facing. Many companies are beginning to realize that and have been taking action to improve leadership before challenges become tsunamis. Many CEOs have appointed an advisory boards to help them shape their ideas and manifest them as reality. Programs that offer leadership coaching to a board range of the senior team are now ore and more common.

Leadership is a special quality. A leader is usually dynamic and capable managing complex situations. The individual that can lead or influence human behavior to achieve a goal is a leader. Leadership also means influencing people to set goals and move towards them.

Organizational leadership is important at every stage and level of a company. Organizations function through various departments, divisions and sections. Highly effective leadership is essential in order to have a coordinated outcome. Leadership may be an in-born quality in some people. In others, it needs to be developed. This is where leadership coaching comes in. Leadership competencies can be improved with the help of a leadership coach.

Leadership is different from management. Management depends mainly on planning, communications skills and organizational skills. Leadership on the other hand greatly relies on commitment, integrity, courage, and most importantly on personal charisma. All these qualities blended with managerial skills form the basis of leadership.

Leadership comes in a wide variety of styles. Some leaders may have a particularly directive style, which could be appropriate for a situation but not conducive for others. A good Chairman or a CEO is one who can adapt different styles of leadership for different situations. Choosing the right style to get the job done is what a good leader does. Leaders can make this happen by having a clear idea of the goals or objectives and charting out a precise plan to achieve them. For leadership to be effective, a team must be committed to a commonly shared goal. This is the first true test of leadership – helping the team reach that consensus.

Each member of the team has to be motivated and focuses to bring about the best performance. In building a team, the team leader needs to know the exact scope and limitations of each team members. This ‘balancing act’ is a true test of leadership. Executives who cannot manage this process are limited in their abilities to lead – they can only lead fully formed and focused teams.

In fact, the test of leadership often extends back to the formation of the team itself. Selecting efficient team members is important. Getting the right people – the right mix of skills and experience – is critical to the success of the team. Then a leader must help them. I my experience, these challenges often are difficult to meet – particularly by relatively inexperienced executives. Providing leadership coaching and arranging for good training programs can help them overcome the challenges and grow as a leader and executive.

Once a team has been assembled, a good leader looks after the members and ensures that a productive and collaborative environment is created where communications and relations are positive and productive. A leader of a large organization must constantly check that the processes of management, communication and development are working smoothly. Communication is of crucial importance.

Leadership is also about earning respect. If the team shares credit for their personal achievements and successes, the leader is sure to get due respect and admiration. On the other hand, a good leader always readily accepts the blame or responsibility for any failures or mistakes. This can come only from an unshakable sense of responsibility. Praise loudly and blame softly is the rule.

A leader must also posses certain other unique and essential qualities. He or she must be capable of taking risks when necessary. A superior leader performs even better under pressure and remains unaffected by unconstructive criticism while paying close attention to constructive criticism. Good leadership involves a combination of mental toughness and subtle awareness. Good leaders always bring out more than what the organizations expect from them. A leader should always be open to new ideas, suggestions, and viewpoints. Effective leaders must always strive to learn more. Leadership coaching can help them do exactly that.

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