Leaders who model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge processes and care about others can get extraordinary things done.
Conventional wisdom portrays leadership as something found mostly at the top. Myth and legend treat it as if it were the private reserve of a few charismatic men and women. Nothing is further from the truth. Leadership is not a birthright.
That’s the inescapable conclusion from case studies of thousands of personal best leadership experiences and several million surveys. Leadership is not about who someone is or where he or she comes from. It’s about what a person does. A leader’s behavior explains why people feel engaged and positive about their workplaces. Empirically, how constituents view their leaders’ behaviors explains more than 100 times the amount of variance accounted for by any particular individual or organizational characteristic.
Leadership is not the exclusive blessing of a few select individuals, nor is it about position, title, power, authority, celebrity or wealth. It’s not about being a CEO, president, general, prime minister or superstar. And it’s most assuredly not about some charismatic gift.
Ordinary people who lead others along pioneering journeys follow similar paths. Though each experience is unique in its particulars, cases often follow comparable patterns. Getting extraordinary things done means engaging in the following five leadership practices:
• Model the way.
• Inspire a shared vision.
• Challenge the process.
• Enable others to act.
• Encourage the heart.
Leadership is an identifiable set of skills and abilities available to anyone. It can be learned, and the best leaders are the best learners.Model the Way
Olivia Lai, senior marketing associate at Moody’s Analytics in Hong Kong, said when reflecting on her personal best leadership experience she realized “that leadership is everywhere, it takes place every day, and leadership can come from anyone. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have the title of manager, director or CEO to go with it. It’s how you behave that makes a difference.”
Exemplary leaders know if they want to gain commitment and achieve the highest standards, they must model the behavior they expect from others. To effectively model behavior, that individual must be clear about his or her own guiding principles.