What makes a really great leader? In our view the most important criteria is that they genuinely care about the success of all their key stakeholders. Obviously, they also have an interest in their own success and ambitions – they have to get something out of the endeavour for themselves – but they are also working for something bigger.
Great leaders take responsibility for the organisation – their job can be the toughest of all. It’s not a reward for what they’ve done in the past, or something they have a right to, it’s something they really want to contribute to, and develop as a legacy for the future.
Many people are in leadership positions, but a surprising few are really great at the role. What makes a great leader? They need to have, and be able to communicate, a clear vision of where the organisation is heading, and why. They need to be brave and show integrity, honesty, and humility. They must not be afraid to roll up their sleeves and get involved at any level of the organisation. A great leader understands their own strengths and isn’t afraid to hire and learn from people who are more skilled than them. Great leaders are genuinely proud of their team’s accomplishments and genuinely care about helping them succeed.
So, how can we develop into great leaders? Is it something we can learn to be? How can NLP leadership help?
What’s important in leadership?
These five elements are vital for great leadership:
- Knowing what leads to success.
- Building a cohesive leadership team.
- Creating rules and clarity.
- Creating a clear meeting structure.
- Continually developing leadership competencies.
What leads to success?
We believe these are the keys to success:
- The leader’s purpose is to be responsible for the success of all stakeholders.
- Success in any project needs discovery, leadership, management (effective use of resources), action, and review.
- Creating and achieving buy-in for the vision.
- Developing an appropriate culture. Hiring, promoting and firing as needed.
- Creating, implementing and reviewing strategy.
- Setting priorities and measurement.
- Building, communicating, and reinforcing clarity almost daily.
Building a cohesive leadership team
The leader’s behaviour sets the tone for the behaviour of the leadership team and through them, the organisation. It’s based on creating an environment of vulnerability based trust and creative conflict.
- Focus on results (e.g. balance 60% team, 40% individual).
- Embrace accountability.
- Achieve commitment.
- Mastering conflict.
- Vulnerability based trust.
Creating rules and clarity
Create a few simple, but not too simple, rules, and be consistent. Continually clarify and communicate:
- Why do we exist?
- What is our vision?
- How we behave? Encourage aspiration and give permission to play.
- What do we do?
- How we will succeed? Setting a strategy + 3 strategic anchors.
- What is important right now? One key thing + its elements + standard objectives = revenue, customer retention etc.
- Who must do what? Agreed the shared and individual goals.
Team meeting structure
Meetings are frequently cited as the biggest waste of work time. They shouldn’t be, and they aren’t if they are planned and structured properly. Each format will have its own rules and guidelines, these are some that work:
- Operational meetings, every day for 5-10 minutes.
- Tactical meetings, weekly for 45-90 minutes.
- Strategic meetings, ad hoc when required, taking 2-4 hours.
- Developmental meetings, taking place quarterly and off site.
- One-to-one meetings with all key stakeholders, the frequency may range between 1 – 6 months.
Be firm and develop ground rules for each format, for example, this is Alan Mulally’s rules for the Ford business review process:
- Attendance is mandatory with no exceptions.
- No side discussions.
- No interruptions and no joking at the expense of others.
- Each leader must articulate his plans, status, forecast and areas that need attention.
- Each leader has the responsibility to help, not judge, everyone in the room to achieve forecast.
A great leader needs to determine, in conjunction with stakeholders, which are the key competencies for him/her to help the organisation, the team and themselves. They continually seek ideas and take action to improve their performance in each. These competencies are from the book: Global Leadership, the next generation by Marshall Goldsmith and Accenture.
Leadership competency examples, these will vary depending on the context:
- Demonstrating integrity.
- Encouraging constructive dialogue.
- Creating a shared vision.
- Developing people.
- Building partnerships.
- Sharing leaderships.
- Empowering people.
- Thinking globally.
- Appreciating diversity.
- Developing technological savvy.
- Ensuring customer satisfaction.
- Maintaining a competitive advantage.
- Achieving personal mastery.
- Anticipating opportunities.
- Leading change.
We offer an NLP leadership compentency assessment. Get in touch if you would like to try this.
NLP Leadership – Recommended Resources
Want to to know more about NLP. See our homepage: What is NLP?
The Motive by Patrick Lencioni
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
What got You Here Won’t Get you There by Marshall Goldsmith
Our NLP Training and Coaching is designed to build your NLP Leadership competencies