In the previous two articles I spoke about the need to play, how we are all creative, and how the combination of the two can lead to a more Createful life. To tie the concept of Createfulness together, there is one more key element and that is based around leadership – how we can act as leaders.

What is it to act as a leader?
From my experience and understanding, leadership is not a position applicable to a select few but rather a set of skills that can be developed by all. If we work on and develop these skills, we can lead our way through life as opposed to just managing with what life throws at us, both personally and professionally.

In the world of business there are various types of leadership:

Servant based, Values based, Authoritative, Participative, Delegative, Transactional, and Transformational, to name a few.

I’m sure that there are many ways to interpret leadership, and the key element of leadership that I relate to is that effective leadership equates to, “people management,” both for ourselves, and for others. And my approach to leadership is that the development of the skills is not for a specific position but it’s holistic – that can be incorporated into everyday life.

What are the traits that I belief relate to effective leadership? My disclaimer is that there are other important traits, but these ones combine to fit in with my idea of a holistic approach.

In no order of importance but connected from the top of the list to the bottom.

(Self) Aware
The need to understand that we and others are unique. We all have certain values, beliefs, talents, strengths, limitations, and triggers. If we take the time out to explore these in ourselves and are aware of them in those around us it contributes greatly to our interpersonal skills, which I believe is the cornerstone to effective leadership.

Confidence comes from self-belief, and self-belief comes from self-awareness. It also comes from preparation, while realising that we will make mistakes – as we all do but understanding that we can learn from them. A confident leader is also someone who realises that answers to solutions can come from those around us and be confident enough to acknowledge that, and not have the need to continuously hog the limelight.

Empathy is not about always being warm and friendly; it’s making a concerted effort to understand.

It’s not asking, “what would I have done in that situation?” But rather asking, “why did they do what they did?”

We all have different energy levels, mood swings, triggers, issues, and for that reason we react to and deal with situations differently.

Empathy is the understanding of this, and it comes from being aware of those around us.

Effective Communicator
Communication is made of talking and listening – not listening to reply but listening to understand.

To communicate we need to elaborate the what, why, by when, and by whom effectively, then we need to take the time out to listen. Listening is so important as not only are we able to gather information, but it also acknowledges the other person(s), it builds rapport which is crucial for team building and for allowing people to be comfortable enough to open up, contribute and share information.

There are two crucial elements needed for accountability.
1. Communication – nothing can be lost in translation,
2. Expectations.

At times we know what we want someone to do, but we don’t communicate the what, why, by when effectively which results in a breakdown of expectations. We can’t hold someone accountable, ourselves included, unless we know what the expectations are. Being accountable also builds trust. If I say I’m going to do something and I do it, trust is built both within myself and the other. However, if I don’t do what I say then the trust is affected, that could lead to a slippery slope downhill and could take time to rebuild.

I discussed creativity in the last article, and I believe it is needed to be an effective leader. WE need to make connections, try new things, be prepared to be wrong – because all of this not only contributes to innovation, but it also alleviates boredom and stagnation.

The interesting thing about adaptability is that we only feel the need to adapt when things aren’t going well, so that we can change the state we’re in. The question that we need to ask ourselves is, “do I need to adapt, or can I adapt the situation in which I find myself?

If we are stubborn, rigid ,hard-headed etc, then the responsibilities that come along with acting like a leader – will be much harder to deal with.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt.
As daunting as it can be, with the possibility that there might be implications, decisiveness is key as it inspires confidence. However, one can ponder on a decision as well as engage with those around us to seek out advice or answers. The comfort is that if we realise that we’ve made the wrong decision – we’ll just need to make another one.

The level of commitment is relative to the level of the success. But also, if we give up on something when the going gets tough, it builds the memory muscle saying, “it’s ok to give up when things aren’t going our way.” However, if we continuously go down that path then that will always be our go to response – and nothing much will ever be achieved.

There are so many interpretations of what integrity is, yet the only thing I want to say about why it is so important is, if your integrity is ever in question, you start to lose trust, and then the snowball effect is a difficult one to reverse.

Whether optimistic or pessimistic, the challenge will remain the same, and to be optimistic is a mindset. Both optimism and pessimism are contagious and if we focus on the latter then it could not only effect those around us, but it could also lead to them wanting to distance themselves from us.

We are not perfect, we make mistakes, and people won’t always agree with us. There is no certainty. Effective leadership is understanding this and still having the courage to show up and to carry on.

Even though the skills that I have mentioned can be developed, challenges can arise as they are related to more than just, “me,” – it does involve dealing with other people. To develop them we need to be present, persistent, and patient.

If we take the time out to develop these traits it will automatically contribute to our growth, but leadership is also about contributing to the those around us. It’s also about contributing to the growth of the team around us so that they can act as leaders.
Whether personally or professionally, if we are growing and contributing, we are adding value not only to ourselves but also to those around us, and if we are contributing to those around us, we’re adding value which can lead us to becoming indispensable.

submitted by Gary Hirson
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author.