Examples Of Leading Questions And Five Examples Of Non-Leading Questions Executive Effectiveness: Becoming an Effective Leader

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Executive Effectiveness: Becoming an Effective Leader

Recently on LinkedIn I posed three questions that resulted in some interesting conversations. Here they are:

  1. An executive is only a leader if people choose to follow. How do you know if people are following or just doing their job?
  2. Everyone says leadership is important, but why does it make a difference?
  3. If an executive makes a good line, are they a good leader?

I think the first question is one that most leaders rarely ask but should. Unless you understand and observe the difference between people who follow and those who just do their job, it can be easy to have the false belief that you are effective as a leader, even though the reality may be different.

When people are “just doing their job”, they are actually just doing enough work to keep their job. They will do what is asked of them – but usually not anymore. They will do a good job of doing their jobs and fulfilling their responsibilities – but nothing spectacular. They don’t argue or fight – but they aren’t kind either. Basically, they do a good job. But there is a big difference between doing a good job and doing a good job.

In contrast, when people follow a leader, they can be engaged and passionate about their work. When a leader builds a team that is passionate and engaged, amazing things happen. They take pride in their work and always strive to improve the efficiency and quality of their work. Instead of just taking time to complete their tasks and fulfill their responsibilities, they strive to accelerate their progress, go the extra mile to be the best they can be and produce the best results. Indifference fell by the wayside and people started to care – not only about the quality of their work, but about their ability to make a difference.

Rest assured, when your team is on the move, they’re just doing their job.

The second question – the part about why and how leadership makes a difference – is also an important question that is rarely asked. I have pondered the answer to this question for years and have been able to distill it into a simple statement. “Having excellence is the essence of leadership.” A good leader does not directly produce good results. Rather, they strive to bring out the best in the people they lead which, in turn, produces great results.

The key then, is to understand how a leader does it. Bringing out the best in people is done in many ways. I believe that one key to obtaining excellence is to adopt a coach-like approach to leadership. This way is to listen and ask good questions. A leader committed to bringing out the best in people promotes independent thinking and personal growth, creates opportunities to develop people to their full potential, respects each person (who in turn gets their respect), and develops a vision that attracts and aligns people.

The third question about whether a person is a good leader if they produce good results arose as a result of a comment made in one of the discussions on LinkedIn. The commentator’s argument is that the responsibility of an executive is to produce the desired results for the shareholders and is therefore a good leader if they achieve those results. My issue with that view is that, even if a leader is responsible for achieving the desired results, if those results are achieved at the expense of the team, then the effort and the results unsustainable. Because of this, I do not believe that just because an executive achieves results he must be a good leader.

So, how does one become a more effective leader? There are many reasons to be a good leader, but here are some of the most important:

integrity: Acting with integrity means doing what you say you will do and being true to your stated values. Consistency in action creates trust and respect, which allows a leader to motivate, inspire, and influence.

Respect: Showing respect to others is important. Human nature is to respect those who show respect to us. Without respect for followers, leadership is ineffective.

Transparency: Being transparent means what you say you are. We must avoid putting in front of someone who is not us. People eventually see through a façade and when they see a different person, credibility is lost.

How: Being vulnerable means admitting when you don’t know the answer and/or when you’re wrong. People respect someone who knows their weaknesses as well as their strengths.

growth: People appreciate being valued and appreciated when someone thinks enough of them to invest their time in their development. When we invest in others it creates a sense of them – almost an obligation – to invest in you and your vision.

In conclusion, most people will do a good job even if an executive is an effective leader. The art of leadership is getting people to be and do their best. Good efforts yield good results. Great efforts produce great results. The challenge each of us has as leaders is to remember how involved and motivated our team is, and then to be honest with ourselves to admit when the reality is less than we would like.

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