President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used to say, “It’s a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead, and find no one there.” To avoid this, you must be a leader who has specific characteristics and behaviours. This is the only way to be a leader of the third decade of the 21st century.
A leader must be authentic in what they do, think and say. Otherwise, they won’t be able to get others to follow. Many leaders learnt this the painful way, because they publicly proclaimed great slogans but privately led a life that was clearly contrary to the views they presented. You can’t call for thriftiness while basking in luxury. You can’t direct a moral renewal movement by acting immorally. You can’t be a military commander if you’re a coward. You can’t demand hard work from subordinates if you’re lazy yourself. A leader who doesn’t inspire people with their authenticity and example is not a leader.
The charisma and authenticity of a leader are based on giving hope to others, even in the most critical moments. A true leader will always find the right way and the best solution that will be safe for everyone. Only then can you achieve extraordinary things by working with ordinary people.
Without a doubt, the morale and attitude of employees and managers play a key role in all organisations, irrespective of size. To achieve this, a leader should be equipped with specific tools. Thanks to this, they can not only know the team’s morale, but also be able to influence it.
In my opinion, building people’s confidence in positive solutions, improving the situation, maintaining a good streak, and in times of crisis – belief in overcoming – are the most important tasks of a leader.
Professor Barbara Frederickson of the University of North Carolina in the US thinks along the same lines. She believes that it’s positive emotions that translate into greater resilience, experience, and better social relations, and increase the desire to gain knowledge, which in turn improves health, well-being and satisfaction. This means that the most important element that an effective leader is responsible for can be implemented. Which element is it?
A leader doesn’t plan or prepare budgets, but sets directions. Managers focus on organising processes, while leaders focus mainly on integrating people around a given vision or idea. Unlike managers, leaders don’t focus on problem solving and control – their main task is to motivate people to find and implement solutions themselves. At the very end of each process, the proof of effective leadership is the sustainability of the changes inspired and introduced by the leader.