Leadership effectiveness is, at its core, the ability to map out then deliver a clear pathway to success. It can be with a team or a company, but it is always dynamic, inspiring and designed to excite or engage others into action. This is especially true in global or international contexts.
Leaders take their vision or mission and essentially sell it to their people in such a compelling manner that employees adopt and operationalise it. Some use stories, dreams or goals that are relatable while others paint a visual picture with words. In some cultures the behaviours may be driven more or less by extrinsic verse intrinsic motivators. What motivates people will be different but the principles are the same.
The goal in leadership effectiveness is to motivate, inspire and bring together individuals so that the vision translates to reality. Leaders tap into the reasons and pathways that drive their team members forward. Leaders understand that with any goal there will be obstacles but they are able to maintain enthusiasm, even if changes to the original vision occur by personalising the experience to meet the specific aspirations of their team members.
Personally Aware in a Global Way
The most effective global leaders are very aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your areas of weakness means you know the areas you need to develop further. It is not always a “weakness.” When we know what can potentially fall short we can check, adjust and protect ourselves from mistakes. We can delegate some things to others who are stronger at these things in order to achieve common goals. Rather than clinging to the false belief that we can do it all, great leaders attract and develop people around them who complement, rather than supplement, their skills. Developing your areas of weaknesses will improve your leadership ability – and recognising them makes you more authentic. This is especially true in different cultural contexts. You need cultural advice and input from those around you who understand a culture better than you do.
Authentic – Being Real
Leadership is not an act. It is not the carrying out of a script or vocation or living a different persona outside of the office. It does not mean being overly personal but it means being real.
“To thy own self be true.” –Polonius, Hamlet
Effective authentic leaders are people who act in a real, genuine and sincere way that is true to who they are as individuals. Webster defines authenticity as “real or genuine; not copied or false; true and accurate.” It comes from the Greek word for author. Authentic leaders are best positioned to inspire trust, loyalty and strong performances from employees through the power of integrity and a congruent mission. Authentic leaders reject the idea that they have to adopt a persona different than their own and they recognise that human beings eventually see through and rarely trust behaviours that are not authentic. “Perfectly imperfect” is something we should aspire to.
Do you know how other people perceive you or how you present to others? “Do you have a mirror?” Find the ability to look authentically at yourself and see what others see? Strong leaders have honest communication with their peers and a clear and honest picture of how they are perceived. We can directly check others perceptions but it can be as simple as observing their behaviour and knowing what this means. Are your colleagues relaxed around you? Does all conversation stop when you enter a room? If you really want to know what people think, can you just ask them? Will you get an accurate answer? Are you a good listener? Do you show appreciation? If you have established a trusting environment that includes honest and open communication, you should be able to ask about your areas or strength as well as areas for development. The gap between what you know and what others know about you should be small. The things that we don’t know are often referred to as “blind spots” and they can be holding back on your progress.
Being perceptive can help a leader be more effective but how knowing best to respond is the next step. Your choice of response needs to match your team’s needs. Some staff will value trust while others will prefer closer monitoring and support. Some will prefer you to be a very clear communicator while others prefer excellent organisation skills. Building a strong team is easier when you know the values, beliefs and goals of each individual, as well as their preferred personality and leadership style. Of course, you cannot be everything to everybody but the closer you can be to achieving this the better.
Organisational Alignment Delivers Leadership Effectiveness
Effective global leaders know the organisation’s overall vision, mission and goals, and they ensure that all actions and behaviours are aligned to these goals. They know how each team member fits into this plan and the essential role they play. They know how to help the organisation grow and develop because they have an intimate understanding of the organisations capabilities. Leadership effectiveness is about organisational alignment first that can achieve outcomes.
Poor communication is often the biggest complaint about ineffective leaders. What must be understood is that it is not the quantity but the quality and if it is not effective, then it counts as zero. In communication processes the effectiveness of communication is judged by the receiver and in the outcomes of the instructions. If someone does not understand then the leader needs to take responsibility for the breakdown. It can be a systems issue or it can be a personal behaviour. Good communication skills are required at every level of the organisation but leaders must be outstanding in this regard.
Inspiring others is an important attribute of effective leaders. Motivation drives leadership effectiveness. It can happen through many means and can be driven by both personal behaviours as well as the climate that is created. Intrinsic motivators are the most effective and most sustainable but extrinsic motivators are also important. Motivation is not created through commands but through example, inspiration, tone and organisational climate.
Building Teams for Leadership Effectiveness
It is an old adage that team work is important but we often overlook the make up of team members, the roles of individuals and purpose of the group. What we often overlook is that a team is not automatically created just because we are combining staff in numbers. Team members need to have different but complimentary strengths. They need to have different roles and at times they need specific training or guidance abut how to perform these roles. There are also specific interpersonal skills required in order for people to interact and work effectively with each other within the team.
Great leaders take risks. The risks are calculated, considered and they need to be taken at the right times. Complacency does not move an organisation forward and courage is important. What is also important is the ability of a leader to take the action forward and at all costs not allow the risk to take irreparable damage if things go wrong. Can staff take risks? Are they comfortable or afraid to take risks?
Inspirational Vision and Goal Setting
An organisation depends on its leader to tell them where they are going and why they are doing it. They need to know how they are going to get there. People are more motivated when a leader articulates very clearly their vision as well as the small, and large, steps or goals that must be satisfied to achieve it.
Leaders are true to their character. They’re committed to doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. When people know wholeheartedly that the person leading them will always do what they say, they in turn will work tirelessly to help the leader achieve a goal.
CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry
Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.
Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.
Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.