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Pillars for Excellence in Leadership

It is known in civil engineering that every structure of lofty buildings needs strong pillars that can provide a strong and an unshakable support for the building to stand even in stormy weather. This principle applies to leadership. Let us go through 11 pillars for excellence in leadership:

1. Self-knowledge

Excellent leaders are people who know themselves. Click To TweetThey know their strengths, their weaknesses, their limitations, their talents, their skills, their dreams and they know their values. They make decisions based on their values.

Self-knowledge is a powerful tool that enables great leaders to know what to correct, what to improve, what to maintain, what to develop and it also enables them to know what to learn.

2. Relationships

Good leaders know how valuable and important relationships are. They take time building good relations with their people. They know that people are the most important resource that one can have and cherish.

Good relations with people build trust. Trust is the glue that holds good leaders and their people together. Excellent leaders have a fundamental knowledge and understanding of people. This is the reason why their leadership is so excellent. You need to treat your people as the most important asset you have in your organization. Treat them with respect and dignity. Make efforts to build good relations with your people. Good relationships make high morale possible.

3. Character

Character is the moral strength to behave in accordance with proper values and morals. The former US General, Norman H. Schwarzkof said, “Nineteen nine percent of leadership failures are character failures.” People cannot enjoy following a leader whose character is dubious and flawed.

Excellent leaders have a strong character. They know that character development and leadership development are inseparable twins. Excellence in leadership is not possible if character gets neglected.

If you want to experience excellence in leadership, you need to develop your character now. If you fail in the area of character, you fail in leadership. That is it, nothing more, nothing less.

4. Positive attitude

Attitude determines either success or failure in leadership. Attitude should never be underestimated in leadership. Former Prime minister of England Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes the big difference.”

Great leaders have a positive attitude. They don’t easily give up when they are faced with problematic situations. They neither retreat nor surrender when times are tough. Instead, they remain positive and hopeful until they reach their destination.

Leaders with negative attitude make their leadership difficult for them because their minds are tattooed with negative thinking. Nothing can stop leaders with the right mental attitude from achieving goals that they want to achieve.

Excellent leaders always bear in mind that their attitudes determine what they see and how they handle their feelings.

5. Competence

Competence is the ability to achieve greatest results. Leaders whose leadership is excellent are competent. Where competence prevails, excellence prevails.

Competent leaders go extra mile in their leadership. They know that people cannot admire to follow an incompetent leader. Competence in leaders motivates followers to be competent in their area of work or duty.

6. Integrity

Integrity is the balance between words and action. Successful leaders act on what they say. They walk the talk. When integrity is absent in a leader, excellence in leadership becomes the mountain to climb.

Integrity makes a leader credible. The more credible you are in your leadership, the more excellent your leadership becomes.

People are not moved by the sweet words you utter to them, but people are moved by action that accompanies your sweet words. When what you say and what you do disagree and contradict each other, your leadership becomes futile.

7. Vision

Vision brings the sense of direction, the sense of purpose, the sense of focus and the sense of goal. Great leaders know where they are going and they know where they are taking their people. They have a clear vision for their organization. What makes these leaders great is that they know how to effectively communicate the vision to their people.

Vision is the fundamental factor that makes a great difference in leadership. A visionless leadership is a dead leadership.

Leaders with vision are driven by enthusiasm, passion, commitment and determination to achieve excellent results for their team, their division, department or their organization. Vision undergirds leaders to surmount the insurmountables in their leadership.

8. Commitment

Commitment is the ability to stick to decisions no matter the cost. It involves the sense of follow-through. Great leaders don’t just set goals, they give their all to ensure that goals are accomplished. They do not easily give up when they are confronted with great challenges that pose a threat to goal achievement.

Excellent leaders anticipate problems and position themselves to arise to the occasion. They are not easily frustrated by frustrating situations and circumstances from inside and outside of the organization because they are committed to excellent leadership.

Committed leaders break barriers; they push their way through the walls of limitation until those walls collapse. Their leadership survives any challenge. The reason for this is their commitment to excellent results.

9. Selflessness

Selflessness is about burying selfishness, wrong motives and personal agenda in the cemetery of failure and ineffectiveness. Good leaders put the interests, and needs of their organization above their own interests and needs. They do not pursue to fulfil their own personal agenda but that of their team, their division, their department or their organization.

Leadership is about the willingness to set aside one’s wants, one’s selfish interests, and one’s needs in order to seek the greatest good of the followers, of the team, division, department or organization.

10. Influence

Excellent leadership is about the ability to influence people to be the best they are capable of becoming. The author of “One Minute Manager” Ken Blanchard states,” What is leadership? It is an influence process.” People need to be motivated and inspired to action. If there is no influence, there is no motivation and inspiration to achieve great results. After all, leadership is about achieving great results. Excellent leadership stands upon the pillar of influence.

11. Prioritising

Successful leaders know that procrastination is the enemy of excellence in leadership. They know where to focus most of their energy and time. Excellent leaders focus 70% of their time, energy and resources on their strengths, they focus 25% of their time, energy and resources on learning new things and they focus 5% on working on their weaknesses.

Great leaders prioritise their projects and assignments according to their importance and urgency. When assignments are of a high importance but not urgent, they set deadlines for completion and they get those projects and assignments into their daily schedule. When the assignments are not important but urgent, they delegate them to leaders they have trained and developed.

If you want excellence in leadership, you must know what brings you the greatest return, focus your energy, time and resources on it. Prioritising is the greatest test of leadership.

You need to embrace these eleven pillars if you want to achieve excellence in leadership. Leadership demands excellence, therefore you must demand excellence from yourself as a leader.

by Gerald Mohlabe

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