MINDA ZETLIN is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of “The Geek Gap,” and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
It doesn’t matter what sort of personality you have. What matters is that you do these four things–really well.
Can leadership qualities be measured? It turns out the answer is yes. Robert Mann, author of “The Measure of a Leader,” has spent the last 43 years developing leadership appraisal tools. Originally created to help the Ontario school system to train principals, his methods can help any leader identify weaknesses and strengths.
When he started his research, Mann says, he expected to identify personality traits of good leaders. It turned out, leaders’ personalities vary widely but, he says, whatever their persona, there are specific behaviors that will make a leader effective. The good news is that you can learn these behaviors, or help an employee with leadership ambitions learn them:
1. Good leaders have a mission and inspire others to join them.
“What is the organization’s purpose?” Mann asks. “You must be able to understand that and communicate it to a group of people such that they will commit themselves to it. And you have to have a strategy for them for them to follow to achieve that mission.”
2. Good leaders create strong organisations.
“The leader has to have a good grasp of what the company is organized to do,” he says. “What’s the most efficient way of producing what it’s organized for?” This is important because the leader needs to understand and manage not only the mission but also the structure of the organization, with sub-leaders who are also important to the company achieving its goals.
3. Good leaders have strong interpersonal skills.
“Interpersonal behavior will very strongly affect how people feel about the organization’s goals, and whether working toward those goals is worthwhile,” Mann says.
4. Good leaders are good motivators.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone loves them. “Some leaders rely on the exercise of power–coersion–to motivate employees,” Mann says. A second way to motivate is by the exercise of authority granted to a leader who’s proved superior ability or skill or commitment. “A third way to motivate is with charisma, so that people are drawn to the leader.”
Most good leaders use all three forms of motivation, he adds. “But there’s usually one that dominates. The interesting thing is it doesn’t seem to matter which.” Different situations call for different forms of motivation, he says. “You have to adapt your performance to the culture of your organization.”