Today I want to speak about leadership and let’s begin our exploration with some straightforward questions.
First, who becomes a leader? Although leaders come in many shapes and sizes, a few personality characteristics are consistently associated with some who is likely to develop into a leader. The most widely cited research in this area shows that people who are more adjusted, sociable, ambitious, and curious are much more likely to become leaders.
Second, what are the key qualities of effective leaders? The ultimate measure of leader effectiveness is the performance of the leader’s team or organization. Leadership is a resource for the group, and effective leaders enable a group to outperform other groups. While the same personality and ability traits described above help leaders become more effective, the best leaders also show higher levels of integrity, which enables them to create a fair and just culture in their teams and organizations. In addition, effective leaders are generally more emotionally intelligent, which enables them to stay calm under pressure and have better people skills. Conversely, narcissistic leaders are more prone to behaving in unethical ways, which is likely to harm their teams.
Third, how will YOU lead? Not everyone leads in the same way. Leadership style is largely dependent on personality. Ambitious, thick-skinned leaders tend to be more entrepreneurial, so they are focused on growth and innovation. Curious, sociable, and sensitive leaders tend to be more charismatic. Studies also highlight gender differences in leadership styles, with men being more transactional and women more transformational. But each gender is most impactful when they focus upon building relationships within their team. This is what LegalShield calls being a mentor and workout partner.
Fourth, are leaders born or made? I think we can all agree that the answer of whether it's “nature or nurture” or “genetics or environment” is “both.” Studies suggest that personality and intelligence — the traits I mentioned before – can be passed from parents to child. While this suggests strong biological influences on leadership, it does not imply that nurture is trivial. Environment and coaching are even more important in order to boost leadership potential. Specifically, well-crafted coaching and learning system will boost critical leadership competencies. This is what LegalShield calls Invest in Yourself -- personal and leadership development.
Fifth, what is the role of culture? Culture is key because it drives engagement and performance. However, culture isn’t the cause of leadership so much as the result of it. Leaders create the explicit and implicit rules of interaction for organizational members, and these rules affect morale and productivity levels. When people’s values are closely aligned with the values of the organization and leadership, they will experience higher levels of fit and purpose. This is what LegalShield calls our Purpose, Vision, Mission and Values. And yes, we like to put the fun in fundamentals.
Sixth, why do leaders derail? We cannot ignore the wide range of undesirable and toxic outcomes associated with leadership. It is not the absence of “best self” qualities, but rather their coexistence with “shadow self” tendencies, that makes leaders derail. This is just one reason why leadership development and coaching is so important, and above all, staying connected, as we say at LegalShield. Being on team calls, attending briefings, going to trainings and conventions – these are the activities that will develop you into the leader that God intends you to be.
Last, leaders live a life of responsibility, not blame. You must lead yourself first before others. Making goals and practicing the simple disciplines each day to achieve them is a start. Teaching others to do the same is progress. Encouraging and growing your team is indeed your path to greater success and happiness.
My name is Jeff Bell, and I am just getting started.
We are LegalShield, and the best is yet to come.