Four Concepts Define Key Leadership Responsibilities
Managers learn the rules that define their basic responsibilities by responding to this question: “What’s wrong, and what specific steps do I need to take to fix it?” So, when senior management passes down mandates, timelines and goals, the manager’s job is to work within the prescribed corporate framework to produce results.
Leaders, on the other hand, self-direct, craft a vision, make plans, achieve goals, build cohesiveness and inspire others while holding themselves personally accountable for their area of the company. The question they respond to is: “What’s possible here, and who cares?”
A leader’s responsibilities are defined by a set of concepts and qualities that motivate people to “get on board” with his or her vision. In fact, there are four basic concepts that help leaders develop the creative energy needed to focus on everyone’s efforts, which guides all employees beyond routine thinking and performance.
Unlike a conventional manager, a leader’s responsibilities are not defined by one question. Generally, a leader’s central responsibility is to move his or her unit from a “mission impossible” to a “mission outcome” stance. This shift requires leaders to embrace multiple areas of skill and direction. To constantly move forward, they focus on specific concepts to help define their key leadership responsibilities.
Management and leadership responsibilities often overlap, but leadership is defined in a completely different context. Leaders’ responsibilities lie in four key areas: self-direction, goal achievement, flexibility and inspiring greatness in others. Leaders recognize that these responsibilities are taken care of through the four actions outlined below.
Related: Do You Have Faith in Your People?
Gain the Cooperation of Others
Establishing a cooperative spirit is the primary responsibility of leadership. This spirit drives an organization and its people to higher levels of productivity and accomplishment. For leaders to be effective they must build a cooperative effort by relying on the following techniques:
- Leaders understand basic human needs and desires and nudge people in the right direction. They know how motivation works to everyone’s benefit.
- They make emotional connections. An effective leader connects with people under their direction to build an interdependence that fosters more long-term gain than individual efforts would.
- They acknowledge the need for followers.
- Leaders understand their people. They take time to converse and ask questions that bring information, concerns, ideas and perspectives to the forefront. Then, they act positively upon them.
Listen and Learn Well
- Leaders never forget where they have been, and use their experiences to shape where they are going, and why. They place learning and listening at the top of the list in terms of building skills and ability. Learning from past errors in judgment prevents their repetition.
- They listen to everyone and everything. Leaders have their ears and eyes on every person, process and situation. They listen for ideas, impending concerns, problems, successes and unhappiness in their employees. They absorb everything and act on the knowledge gained to prevent major problems from occurring.
- Leaders seize all opportunities to make people feel successful, competent and comfortable in the work environment. Excellent leaders are not reactive, but proactive by nature.
Put the Needs of Others First
- Effective leaders separate themselves from the rest of the pack through self-sacrifice and by setting their egos aside. Good leaders are never afraid to work alongside their people to finish a project or resolve a situation.
- Leaders are flexible, slowing down or speeding up while assessing their employees’ productivity and efforts.
- Leaders understand that keeping tasks simple and obvious makes for a committed workforce. Employees desire to know precisely what is expected of them and how to complete their assigned tasks. A leader focuses on ways to make their assignments and projects more direct and clearly defined.
- By understanding that people are different, leaders solidify mutual respect and communication, and maintain openness and fairness with every employee.
- Leaders build cohesiveness through cooperative efforts by holding employees and themselves accountable. They know this is necessary to achieve their goals and ideals.
- Effective leaders realize that their actions and words must not send mixed messages. Leaders should stay the course, even under duress or in the midst of adversity. They must remain genuine and use discretion in all judgments they make. Excellent leaders will reinforce their motivation, inspiration and expectations to maintain a strong leadership position.
Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
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