How do effective leaders lead? In 10 years of research of effective leaders in politics, business and non-profit, our research team have identified two critical pillars of effective leadership:  The Magnet – an ability to have and articulate a vision bigger than the institution; and the Hammer – an ability to instill personal responsibility and disciplined execution in the people.

How do effective leaders learn to lead? We have found that successful leaders develop these capabilities in leadership roles outside of their organisation – in leadership positions in charities, in the church, in neighbourhood associations, in local politics – long before they get the opportunity to lead in their organizations. We call these learning moments crucibles – usually it is the setbacks and the failure that generates most powerful learning.  It is important for leaders to have “practice” leadership well before they arrive in the executive suite or political office.

Effective leaders learn though a long term process how to engrain the habits into daily routines in their lives.  This blog, the Origin of Leaders will look at 5 practices of developing effective leadership:

  1. Developing vision (it takes more time than we think)
  2. Effective communication of vision (sharing stories and visualizing the future)
  3. Hold people accountable (use of hard and soft power)
  4. Hold yourself accountable (use of coaches, mentors, peers; turning dreams into goals into action)
  5. Achieving a sense of personal fulfillment from the journey (keeping the journey going for life)

One thought on “Where do leaders learn to lead? Outside.

  1. With the magnet and the hammer, Conor has hit the leadership nail on the head. Leaders aren’t born…they’re shaped. In “crucible moments” as Conor mentions.

    Over the years, I’ve noticed that the most potent leaders are those whose power is grounded in humility. And humility, interestingly, often comes to a leader unexpectedly…through some form of humilation. (The words are related, after all). The most powerful leaders are those whose egos are tethered to the ground. That usually doesn’t occur until the leader has experienced some form of personal humilitation or tragedy. Without the important (and often painful) lessons that humiliation brings, a leader is likely to become too enamoured with him or herself. When that happens, followers start to smell the leader’s arrogance, and loyalty evaporates. Conversely, when a leader is powerful AND humble, the loyalty of followers grow. They think, “Not only does this person get results, but they are are ‘real’ – they’ve known pain and hardship…just like us.”

    I look forward to exploring these ideas with Conor and other folks committed to advancing human and leadership potential!

    Bill T.

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