I’ve been doing a lot of reading on leadership lately. For a few reasons, I’m managing more at work now – whether it’s the client, or vendors or inter-office relationships and since I’ve avoided the business school path, I find myself paying extra attention to inspiring individuals around me and watching how they lead. Two days ago, we were in a C-suite meeting with one of the largest Fortune 500 company. The senior-most leader in the meeting is a a well respected business executive and it can be quite intimidating to be in the same room as her. It was very humbling for us to see how well she was listening, asking questions or further clarifications. It is also worth nothing that this leader created a congenial environment for her team by asking them to share more about their initiatives and asking them questions and their opinions on certain issues.
I’ve been reading articles on Harvard Business Review and the one that resonated most strongly with me is called ‘Why Should Anyone be Led by you?” It is co-authored by Robert Goffee (Prof. of Organizational Behavior, London Business School) and Gareth Jones (Dir of Human Resources and Internal Comms. at BBC)
According to their research, inspirational leaders have four unexpected qualities and I do think they are worth sharing here. And I am quoting directly from the article,:
- They selectively show their weaknesses – By exposing some vulnerability, they reveal their approachability and humanity
- They rely heavily on intuition to gauge the appropriate timing and course of action – Their ability to collect and interpret soft data helps them know just when and how to act
- They manage employees with something we call tough empathy – Inspirational leaders empathize passionately and realistically with people, and they care intensely about the work employees too
- They reveal their differences – They capitalize on what’s unique about themselves
I think after a point, leadership becomes less about the technical or industry knowledge and more about how a leader is able to empathize with his/her employees and lead them to their best performance. Just my guess..