Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

The Roadmap to Effective Leadership

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Leadership effectiveness can be thought of as “an influencing relationship process among leaders and employee followers who work collaboratively to effect real and necessary changes.” These changes tend to reflect shared purposes, goals and efforts. It is a dynamic action process focused on mutual understandings and beliefs between leaders and employees.

As there are specific rules and principles that tend to guide leadership vision and actions for effectiveness, leaders need to consider certain questions that ultimately forge their roadmap for success.

The journey toward leadership effectiveness should always begin with a question such as: “What improvement is needed within the organization, and what specific steps do I need to bring it about?” Though senior management typically passes down mandates, timelines and expected goals, it is the individual leader’s responsibility to put them into a time lined and vision-directed framework in order to generate positive results.

The roadmap for effective leadership also includes developing higher levels of self-direction, vision, planning and goal achievement, which comes from inspiring others and building cohesiveness, as well as maintaining personal accountability.

In order to begin the path for leadership effectiveness it is important to ask another question: “What’s possible here, and how does the organization and its members stand to benefit?”

A leader’s roadmap to effectiveness consists of a series of factors that motivate people to follow. There are four basic qualities that help develop a focus on individual efforts that consistently will lead all involved workplace members beyond routine thinking and performance.

Leader effectiveness is not simply defined by actions made in response to obvious or crisis situations and circumstances. In reality, true effectiveness centers around the ability to move from a “mission impossible” to a “mission outcome” stance. To move consistently forward, leaders need to rely on specific procedures and actions encompassing multiple areas of skill and direction.

Elements of management and leader effectiveness often tend to overlap. However, leadership effectiveness is defined in a completely different context. Instead of focusing on basic management principles, practices and procedures as a roadmap for success, the four elements that leaders focus on are self-direction, goal achievement, flexibility and inspiring others to attain greatness. As an integral part of focusing on these factors, leaders recognize the importance of:

Gaining the Cooperation of Others

Establishing and cultivating a cooperative spirit is one of the primary means of increasing leadership effectiveness. Leaders use it to generate and maintain personal and employee enthusiasm for task and project facilitation. This spirit drives an organization and its people to higher levels of productivity and accomplishment.

Building and establishing a cooperative spirit takes concerted effort and begins with understanding basic human needs and desires. Effective leaders use needs and personal desires to nudge employees in the right direction, while constantly detailing and emphasizing just how motivation works to everyone’s benefit.

Making emotional connections is part of the process. This implies being able to evaluate performance and results by measuring them against one’s own expectations and goals. It also means acknowledging that as a leader, one needs followers. A truly effective leader builds a sense of workplace interdependence, which is able to gain and produce more in the long term than all combined individual efforts.

The basis for establishing a cooperative spirit lies in examining and analyzing how best to initiate and excel in tasks. Leaders need to be continually identifying their weakest areas, and, in order to improve upon them, need to set specific goals to turn them into strengths. Excelling in tasks and in implementing procedures and assignments helps leaders feel more in control over work-related situations and occurrences, which tends to increase their personal job enthusiasm and stamina.

Leaders Gain Cooperation by Understanding Their Employees

Beyond workers with a job, effective leaders know their success is inextricably tied to their employees—who like them have concerns, hopes and aspirations. As such, they take the time to converse with and ask questions of their employees. They find out what motivates as well as hinders, frustrates or concerns them. This brings information, concerns, ideas and perspectives to the forefront in order to identify problems, opportunities, and the best actions to take in regard to them.

Effective Leadership is Predicated upon the Ability to Listen and Learn

Continuous learning and listening needs to become a top priority if leaders are to excel. Effective leaders never forget where they have been, and use their own as well as others’ experiences to dictate where they should go, and why. Learning from past errors in judgment prevents similar types of problems and negative consequences from occurring.

It is essential for leaders to have their ears and eyes on every person, process and situation, not in a controlling sense, but in order to listen for ideas, impending concerns, problems, successes and unhappiness. Effective leaders absorb everything and act on the knowledge they gain to prevent conflict or work slowdowns from occurring. They are watchful for opportunities to make people feel successful, competent and comfortable in the work environment.

Effective leaders further recognize they are not reactive, but proactive by nature, where good listening and learning habits set both a positive example in the workplace and the foundation for corrective action before problems can take root and sap productivity.

Effective Leaders Sacrifice Self to the Needs of Others

Acknowledging and taking the stance of self-sacrifice is what separates leaders from the rest of the pack. Good leaders set their egos aside. They are not afraid to get involved and help out in various projects or situations alongside the people under their direction. They are flexible, continually slowing down or speeding up as they assess their employee’s productivity and individual efforts.

Skilled leaders never set or rescind a rule that becomes disruptive to workplace harmony or to any individual employee. Placing employees’ needs first means keeping tasks clear, simple and obvious, which makes for a committed workforce. It means making sure employees know exactly what is expected of them and how to complete the tasks assigned. They also focus on ways to make their own assignments and projects simpler, more direct and clearly defined.

Success Springs from a Consistent and Positive Workplace Example

Accepting others as they are and embracing differences and unique qualities tends to generate mutual respect and open communication. Thus leaders work at building cohesiveness through cooperative efforts and hold employees and themselves accountable to achieving their goals and vision.

Positive examples can only be set when outward actions correspond with words and do not send a mixed message. Success is entirely dependent upon following through with promises and commitments without deviating from what was promised, even under stress and adversity. Therefore leaders remain inwardly and outwardly genuine, and use discretion in everything they plan, say and do.

Excerpt: Becoming a Leader of Your Own Making: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011) $ 16.95 USD

If you would like to learn more about professional leadership development, refer to Becoming a Leader of Your Own Making: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

November 15, 2011 at 9:45 am

5 Responses

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  1. Thanks for posting this information Tim. I have also take a look at all of your associated materials and have book marked the page. I believe that your experience and of course the L&D/Leadership content you have developed will prove valuable for myself in future settings. I am especially interested in Change Management materials – and write on this area frequently – based on what I have read thus far, your various literature will become sources for many others to effectively lead, lead change and effectively organize their people and processes as well as have better personal and professional outcomes.


    November 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm

  2. Good and simple overview. It is a focus on the future that involves and engages people in collaborative efforts to make improvement that is the key, in my opinion. Positive and engaging leadership is useful but not always immediately effective.

    One of the tools I use is an exercise called, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.”

    In it, people discover that the goal is to maximize ROI — “To mine as much gold as we can.” They are also told that the Expedition Leader is there to, “Help teams be successful.”

    Instead of collaborating, they compete. Instead of asking for help and doing more planning, they reject outside ideas and effectively choose to sub-optimize behaving.

    The result is that they claim that they did not know that the goal was optimizing OVERALL results and that they did not trust leadership to help them. This is, in great part, due to their past experiences where rewards were achieved more for competing and winning rather than collaborating and succeeding. And their experiences are that leaders are not generally all that supportive of efforts to improve results.

    Leadership is a funny paradox of things. Trust is the residue of promised fulfilled and built up only slowly. Teamwork and a shared vision of where organizations are going is not a common thing.

    The best leaders do what is above, so I think it a good post. Thanks for sharing.

    Scott Simmerman

    November 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    • Change towards collaborating and succeeding is still a new concept to many people and the best, most effective leaders are full of patience. This is certainly rare especially in environments where the overall culture has a results driven focus with blinkered scope. What this creates is scenarios which are familiar, and comfortable or not, people do like the comfort zone. As many people know, increasing ROI in today’s culture requires a new approach, a fresh way of looking at our traditional models that broadens everyone’s perspective and improves office dynamics. It is market of opportunity and prosperity for those companies who are willing to look at future trends as we move closer towards a holistic office model everyday. I really enjoyed reading how important empathy is to our leaders of the future. The points in these articles are not just tools but human attributes, such a positive resource, we all can share to empower each other in the workplace and beyond.

      kirstei holt

      November 20, 2011 at 6:32 pm

  3. […] Related: The Roadmap to Effective Leadership […]

  4. Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.


    March 17, 2014 at 7:11 pm

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