Leadership skills and development
We often look for leadership by focusing on charisma and confidence combined with a stellar résumé or academic credentials. What does define great leadership?
A recent survey by Wiley found that perspectives are shifting about how leadership is viewed. It’s much more people-focused and collaborative than authoritative or charismatic. It’s less about position and more about relationships and accountability.
DiSC® leadership styles
Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship between people based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good.
What are leadership skills?
If leadership is not a position or title—if it can be learned—then what are those skills?
Read leadership books or blogs and you’ll find an exhaustive list of skills people see as necessary for leadership. For example, Everything DiSC Work of Leaders® has distilled the writings of leadership researchers as falling into three essential steps: Vision, Alignment, and Execution. The Leadership Challenge® has summarized the work into five core practices: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart.
Recently, Wiley conducted their own research on expectations of leadership. Nearly 82 percent of respondents said they considered themselves a leader, with 62 percent of individual contributors viewing themselves as a leader. The survey showed that people want their leaders to be effective communicators, share a clear vision, and build relationships. These qualities can be found at every level; they are not limited to roles or positions.
“[I]n an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.”
Organizations can support the development of leadership, not just individual leaders. We recommend using products like Everything DiSC Work of Leaders and The Leadership Challenge to be at least part of any leadership training program. They will contribute to developing the softer skills required by today’s leaders.
Mentoring can be helpful if good matches are made, and both the mentor and mentee receive training on how to manage their mentoring relationship. Mentoring doesn’t always come naturally and not everyone expects the same thing from the relationship.
Of course, the best teacher is experience. Setting stretch goals, offering feedback, providing opportunities for self-reflection, hiring a coach, and other actions can also generate powerful learning experiences.