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Want to be a Super Leader? Here are 4 keys...

How does one create a Super Leader? Harvard University professor David McClelland, who made famous the expectancy-value theory of human motivation, conducted extensive research on the competencies of Super Leaders not by looking at the job, but by learning about the person. McClelland and his team gathered together the top 10 to 15 percent of leadership performers in an organisation, and matched them with the less effective ones. By working on the premise that job competency - and leadership is in a sense a job - requires that the leader's intent be identified, and not just his behaviours observed. By diving deep into how the Super Leaders thought, did and acted, and comparing them against the less effective ones, they were able to uncover four key competencies that ALL Super Leaders had; and also highlighted why the other leaders were less effective. Yet, McClelland also uncovered that less effective leaders can develop themselves into Super Leaders, simply by focusing their personal development on those competencies that they lacked. In other words, ANYONE can be a Super Leader, if they focus their development on these four FUNDAMENTAL competencies.

(1) The drive to achieve results

If you look at it, results defines a leader. If a leader cannot achieve results, then there is no real point in him being in leadership, correct? If there is no tangible outcome to his activities, to his reason for being in the company, then he will quickly find himself out of a job! All leaders need to achieve results for these reasons:

(a) to ensure that the business thrives, and

(b) to have a moral standing for his/her leadership, because there would be no results if there was no support from the team

The first point is of course very important. Someone needs to keep their eye on the prize, the information that is coming in. If these are left to chance, no one will actually be doing anything of significance, and the growth initiative will collapse. A thriving business allows a leader to do much more than simply line the coffers with more gold! Yet, the second point comes in support of the first. A leader needs the mandate of the people they are leading. If team members do not trust the leader to be able to perform, then there will be no performance. And therein lies the rub! If one is results-oriented, there will be more results; and when one is less results-oriented, there would be even less. Either a vicious or a virtuous cycle - the better leaders tend to get better, the lesser leaders tend to get lesser!

So, which do you want to be?

(2) The ability to take initiative

One thing we know for sure is that a leader's job is never well defined. You need to embrace it as it comes along. Hence, if you want to achieve results, you need to take the initiative and move along. You need to create a hypothesis and test it, all the while positioning the unit for greater growth. Initiative is backed by courage, and the ability to recover when one has made a mistake. Initiative also entails some level of intellect, and the means of managing risk. All these point to a growth minded leader, because the growth mindset is the precursor for initiative. If you don't have the growth mindset, chances are, you won't be able to take inititatives!

Find out if you have the growth mindset here

(3) Collaboration & teamwork

The hallmark of a good leader is one who can rally the support of different collaborators so that the sum is greater than its parts. A true leader knows where she may be strong and where she may not be. A true leader knows how to overcome those weaknesses by pulling together the strengths of others, especially those who may be in competition. By being able to shape the collaboration to pool respective strengths from all parties, and deliver a solution that no single party can achieve, the Super Leader will be able to vault the unit or business past its potential. And just as in organisations, so in individuals. We too need to find other leaders to co-develop. One successful method is peer coaching. This is when two - or more - leaders come together to coach one another on critical matters of leadership that only they can understand. By embracing a learning mindset (there we go again on the mindset thing!) we can uncover the hidden limitations of our thinking and uncover better solutions!

(4) Ability to lead teams

Finally, what is a leader if not to lead? A team is made up of two or more people working towards a common goal. And the leader is one who will shape that goal, align the members toward it, and to muster the resources to get it done. A leader is one who says, "Come! Follow me!" and the rest will fall in line (there is a very close correlation with point #1 here!). This obviously requires a strong bond within the team; implicit trust in you as the leader, and in one another. If there is no trust, there will be no leadership, regardless of the styles you use. In a way, of these four fundamentals, perhaps only one is needed - that there is trust. If you cannot build trust within your team, and to gel them together and get them going together, then there is no leadership. And if there is no leadership, there will be no performance. And when there is no performance, then there are no results.

And how do you get them to trust you? By

(a) telling the truth

(b) keeping your word

(c) being authentic

(d) being inclusive

It is not rocket science to building trust, but if all of leadership rises and falls on it, then you need to ensure that you have the continual trust of your people. So focus on those four tips. Remember, if you want to be an effective leader, you will have to work on it.


A Super Leader is a growth leader! Find out your growth mindset if you don't already know...

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