Influential leadership

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Businesses and Executive Committees
Benjamin BRIGHT-DAVIES 

The year 2022 has already run a month. Businesses and Executive Committees (ExCos) have had their strategy sessions followed by the regular, quarterly town-hall meeting to review 2021’s performance and financials. With slides and presentations bedecked with ratios, market share analyses and sloganeering, it is every Management’s expectation that the tone is set for employees to deliver stronger year-on-year growth and performances. But is it that easy?

Profitability and growth are two key deliverables in any business.  To achieve these, it takes more than number-crunching sessions and setting out compelling visions to drive a business.  Employees, as rational beings, are motivated by competitive salaries, career progression and a great work environment. However, business owners and leaders must consistently develop and grow their ability to exert influence on their employees if they want to see real transformation in their organizations.

What do Barack Obama (ex-US President), Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams and popular musician Stonebwoy have in common? They have all got charisma in bundles. They carry excellence, positive energy, passion and the ability to connect and leave lasting impressions on the people they engage with.  The leaders of today need these in their armoury.

Charisma can boost one’s professional and personal lives. It may sometimes be synonymous with charm, but a leader with genuine charisma is more concerned with how (s) he makes direct reports feel. Employees are drawn to leaders who embody many of their aspirations.  By making employees feel enhanced, inspired and better about themselves, they start to look at their leader in a favourable way and are more likely to be embodiment of the organization and the brand they represent.

Influential Leaders have charisma

True influence is integral to effective leadership. Before one becomes a leader, success is all about growing yourself and building capacity. However, on becoming a leader, success is much about grooming and growing others. Leadership is about working with your team to help them excel through their actions.  The goal is to inspire and push your team to be the best that they can be.  An influential leader’s actions must inspire others to dream more, assimilate more, attain more and become more.

It does not mean focusing entirely on the employee and putting the organisation’s aspirations on the back burner. As with all things, balance is key.  Being able to recruit top talent is just one piece of the puzzle. To get the best results for your organization, teams need guidance and support from good leaders who can motivate and influence them to give their best performance with regularity. A leader who displays authenticity and warmth will generate a sense of reassurance and accessibility with employees. As a consequence, those who come into contact with them are likely to feel more open to expressing themselves and can gain greater validation in doing so.  All of these form the bedrock for employees to deliver superior performances.

Communication skills is a critical competency for today’s leader. It requires leaders to master the art of listening. Problem-solving – to address team members’ concerns – coupled with constructive feedback or fresh ideas come through effectively listening. This is only possible when leaders open their minds to fully understand their teams’ perspectives. This builds relationships of trust and loyalty – paramount to any business’s success.

Respect is also a key determinant of high-performance leadership. How much people respect you determines how well they perform. Authority is not a key to successful leadership. When people are well disposed towards a leader, they remember you, want to be around you and create opportunities for you and the organization to succeed. Remembering an employee’s name for example and mentioning it in a conversation makes them feel significant. And the fact that you remember it wins respect and admiration. The best leaders have a high consideration factor. They are polite, show courtesy and actively demonstrate care about their people.

When an employee talks to a traditional manager, he gets the feeling that the manager is important. Talking to a leader, he gets the feeling that he (the employee) is important. Leaders cannot act and work as managers if they want to succeed. Managers do the right things while leaders do things right. While a manager will be seen spelling out orders and telling how it must be done, a leader consciously nurtures and enhances the work of employees.  Influential leaders are able to get others to willingly do the things they – the leaders – want done.

Leading relates to one’s capacity to drive, influence, and motivate others to achieve specific goals. Managing is centred on getting work done with organizational objectives ultimately accomplished. But to purposefully lead people, one must be both a good manager and leader. A true leader is one who can not only deliver outcomes but also inspires people to work smarter towards a shared vision of success.

Reviewing personal leadership traits and styles against the influence factor will determine whether a leader is well placed to elevate their teams and drive success for their organization in 2022.

Best wishes for the eleven months ahead.

The writer is the CEO of CashBack Capital.

Contact: [email protected], Cell: +233 20 222 0064

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