In follow up to the LG Professionals SA Conference, Allan Preiss from McArthur addressed the qualities of the leader of the future. Here is a follow up summary of the session, together with the audience responses during the session.
MORE LEADERS, LESS FOLLOWERS
Our leadership model has failed us badly. Never have we had such low levels of trust in our leaders – be they corporate, political or religious leaders.
It is not just how our organisations are led. Rather it is the way we think about leadership and how it ripples through an organisation.
Our leadership mindset can often be idealistic and is built on a hero leader model. This directs us to an obsession with strong, individualistic, charismatic leaders who are experienced, knowledgeable and powerful and who are in control of every situation. Are these the leaders that will take us into a bright future?
The hero leadership model is totally unsuited to the success of our organisations and institutions today, particularly in the public sector, who now more than ever, must rely on harnessing the skills, knowledge and dedication of their people.
It is often said that the role of leaders is to create followers. This is certainly true of the hero leader model. But it simply doesn’t align with people and organisations today.
We need more leaders in our organizations - not more followers. We are not talking about people with a title. We mean people who are prepared to take a lead on issues that matter and are motivated and empowered to do so by organisations with leadership that encourage and facilitate that kind of approach.
There are excellent examples of these kinds of leaders.
Jim Collins calls them Level 5 leaders. Robert Greenleaf speaks of servant leaders.
For Collins these leaders are characterised by the following features:
- They have great ambition for their organisations whilst being personally very humble.
- They are focused on their organisations being successful well beyond their tenure.
- They have a window and mirror philosophy. When things go well they look out the window to attribute success to the work of others or good fortune. When things go badly they look in the mirror and ask what they could have done differently to generate a better outcome.
The servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the organisations and communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power, servant leadership is about sharing power, putting the needs of others first and helping people develop and perform as highly as possible.
At a recent Local Government conference in Adelaide facilitated by Talent Architects we asked participants to describe the attributes of the best and worst leader they knew of or had worked for. Their responses are shown below.
The best leaders:
- Lead by example
- Inspire others to leave a legacy
- Are passionate
- Enable staff
- Share leadership
- Achieve through others
- Develop people
The worst leaders:
- Don’t treat people fairly
- Withhold information
- Don’t listen
- Are dictatorial
- Don’t share recognition
- Say one thing and do another
- Are self-centered
Interestingly, for this group of local government participants, not one of the positive attributes have anything to do with hero leadership or technical skills and knowledge. They are all about emotional intelligence and being other-centred.
Invariably the post-graduate programs that aspiring leaders complete have a technical orientation: MBA, Strategy and Planning, Public Policy. This is not to suggest that technical and professional skills are not important. They are very important. But often they are not what will make you stand out as a leader.
Some organisations embrace the idea of being a leaderful organisation and they reap the benefits for: their people; the communities they serve; and their business objectives. They genuinely invest in their people at all levels through a range of creative and engaging programs to develop their emerging leaders. They are a living alternative to the hero leader philosophy.
If you want to know more about McArthur’s approach to leadership and leadership development contact Andrew Alford on (03) 9828 6565