Open the newspaper and it seems there's one story after another about corporate accounting scandals and other ethical troubles. In the midst of all these troubles, however, the American Society for Training and Development says a common consensus about leadership is emerging.
Clark Aldrich interviewed thousands of leaders - senior executives, midlevel managers and line managers - in a variety of public and private organizations. Based on those interviews, he identified six qualities for effective leadership and outlined them in ASTD's T&D magazine's annual leadership issue.
Here are the qualities:
- Power: The difference between managers and leaders is that leaders aren't satisfied with just completing the assigned work. Leaders worry about "getting a group of people to productively complete the right work," Aldrich says.
- Ideas: Leaders need to understand that people distill new ideas in different ways and use the appropriate strategy to help a group uncover hidden ideas.
- Tension: In the article, Aldrich says a tricky challenge is moderating the tension level so that employees are in a productive, working state.
- Commitment: To get things done, leaders must focus on the top priorities.
- Balance: Although the need for power is important for effective leaders, gaining too much without sharing it can have negative consequences. "Many lower-level employees who have great ideas but little formal or informal authority won't introduce their ideas for fear of having them shot down," Aldrich says.
- Practice: Leadership skills can be practiced every day in meetings, with managers and colleagues, or when developing a business plan or career map.
For more information about the ASTD, go to http://www.astd.org/. You can access the "The New Core of Leadership" article at http://www.store.astd.org/. The PDF is free for ASTD members, but costs US$4 for nonmembers.