It’s interesting, when people think about the word leadership they tend to think about heady, high level stuff. After all, excellent leadership practiced well can achieve some truly remarkable things. It can change the direction of a company and have a huge impact on thousands of employees’ lives. Effective leadership can influence the path that organizations and communities follow. Over time, truly great leadership can change the course of history.
Although leadership is a very impactful process, I think many leaders and managers get confused by the difference between what great leadership can accomplish and how it needs to be practiced. Knowing that effective leadership can do such compelling and dramatic things, they can mistakenly believe that they must always act in complicated and dramatic ways. In the search for high impact quick fixes, they pursue endless sources of knowledge seeking the secret that will turn everything around and make the difference. Often issues and challenges are perceived as much more convoluted and complex then they really are.
Properly applied leadership is a much more down to earth practice. The attributes of high performance leadership are usually actions which are simple, practical and straight forward. Those actions include: providing clear direction; communicating expectations; providing feedback; rewarding good performance; and upholding consequences for poor performance. Leaders who consistently apply these actions are effective in building cohesiveness, teamwork and liberating the full potential of those who work for them.
The essence of leadership effectiveness relates more to our simple actions and behavior than any high minded concepts or theories. In leadership and management, it’s not what you know; it’s what you do with what you know that counts.