There are myriad different leadership models and approaches, many of which are highly prescriptive about the type of personality and qualities you need in order to be an effective leader.
For example, qualities like charisma, persuasiveness, emotional intelligence and courage are often highlighted as essential qualities for leadership effectiveness and success.
However, recent research shows that successful leaders have very different personalities and qualities that they draw on in achieving their results. What they do have in common though is a true understanding of and ability to leverage their ‘leadership edge’ (their unique strengths, abilities and skills) to influence and inspire others to achieve extraordinary results.
Effective leadership is also about positive stretch – stretching yourself and your team to push the boundaries and achieve in the upper range of your collective strengths. This is particularly relevant in today’s competitive and evolving environment, where organisations (private, public and voluntary) are being challenged to do more with less, to work more efficiently by optimising the discretionary effort, innovation and engagement of their workforce.
Our experience and research show that effective leaders master the art and science of ‘stretch’. They adapt to environmental changes while adhering to the four Stretch Leadership Habits. They establish a clear ‘picture of success’ for their own development and progression and that of their teams and the wider organisation by Sharing Vision (the first Stretch Leadership Habit).
They simplify this shared vision into manageable stretch goals ensuring buy-in from all stakeholders through the habit of Sparking Engagement. They Skilfully Execute (the third Stretch Leadership Habit) the road map to achieve their vision, celebrating success and Sustaining Progress (the final Stretch Leadership Habit) and positive energy throughout.
In short, they push the boundaries of thinking and possibility, looking for new and innovative ways of doing things to achieve the organisation’s goals, while advancing their own career.
By James Brook and Dr Paul Brewerton
Extract from Optimize your strengths: Use your leadership strengths to get the best out of you and your team by James Brook and Dr Paul Brewerton, published by Wiley.