HONESTY & INTEGRITY, followed by self-awareness are key to Transpersonal Leaders – our very senior colleagues are telling us. Our short survey attracted good interest – and a vibrant discussion.
60% were in complete accord about the Key Quality you Value most in Leaders.
Honesty and integrity are the starting point; the leader should know about themselves and then have the courage to move themselves and others towards the greater good. If you don’t have courage- you cannot foray into unknown territories to achieve goals- neither can you look inside for strength but those goals cannot be achieved without honesty and integrity in the long run.
A number of you say the central principal is to lead by example. A company head explains: “If I am preaching honesty and integrity as core values of the organization, I, as leader, must be the first one to display them.”
The second most highly rated value was self-awareness, referenced by over half of our respondents. Many believed by lacking self-awareness “One may make the wrong decisions.” For a number of leaders, self-awareness is the first step in development. “Without it, it is hard to improve as a person.”
Of course leadership is about taking decisions and standing by them – requiring courage, as mentioned above. This was the next most important attribute to you, mentioned by almost 50% of those who responded. The cascade effect on employees and reports is crucial to leaders’ thinking. “A leader needs to demonstrate clear values in order for colleagues to also behave with honesty and integrity,” says one. Another adds: “Setting the right examples, strong character and value systems are very critical.” In some feedback, courage was labelled as “resilience to be able to cope with headwinds and setbacks.” The desire was evident for leaders to be “a strong role model for more of what you are trying to lead.”
Many leaders agree that people look for and seek out authenticity. “Great leaders need to lead by example and be open and transparent in relation to everything they do. It can’t be one rule for the leader and another for everyone else. Authenticity allows for credibility and inspires others.” For others, empathy is close behind in the league table – ranked with nearly 40% approval. “If you understand the person, you can support them to grow and shine.” Leaders of companies of all sizes concurred with the view “A bedrock of trust is essential between you and those you lead and that starts with empathy – building a bridge across and between, with courage to be vulnerable and true.”
The synergy of the answers was remarkable regarding One additional quality our leaders value. Whether called vision and mission, being visionary or visioning – this is the lodestone for many of you. “The leader should imagine the vision and mission and then make them real. They must be able to articulate the bigger picture to their groups and motivate people towards it. This is the ability to think beyond the obvious, connecting the dots and be futuristic.”
Drive and focus makes leaders “effective,” and this was also called “decisiveness.”
Significantly, the ability to make a decision was highly valued, with an understanding that it may not always be the right one, and the humility to admit it later on! Humility and also transpersonal leadership are bedrocks for our respondents. “It is important to control the ego and to do the right things without always expecting recognition. Curiosity is needed because without it there will not be a willingness to learn and take your own personal development seriously. Relationship management is the ultimate consideration, because nobody leads alone!”
Disconcertingly, there is a great deal of disillusion with the kinds of executive coaching on offer. More than one in ten saw no change at all after senior management were involved in (non-LeaderShape) leadership courses and only 13% saw positive change. However, this did not last. Without leadership skills being embedded, participants reverted to old, bad habits in at least one in five cases. Worse, 7% reported a worsening of the situation after managers undertook some sort of unspecified training!
Comments were quite scathing in some cases:
“There is too much top-down, figure-based management withour understanding and it is focused on short term goals,” was typical of this feedback.
Others felt they received good leadership coaching that was then ignored. “A much under-rated learning from my leadership training was that imagination is probably more important than intelligence!” (LeaderShape’s John Knights adds: “unless it is emotional intelligence!”)
However, the up-sum was quite inspirational- with a real understanding of leadership roles. “The difference between a leader and a manager to me is in one word. Inspire -isn’t that what leaders do!?”