Real leadership requires two things: a vision of what’s possible, and a talent for motivating others to make that vision a reality.
But how do we recognize leadership when we see it? And more important, how can we build those all-important leaders of tomorrow, today?
In an Entrepreneur article, writer Nicolas Cole describes leadership as a set of steady-state personality traits: “It’s not something you choose to be one minute and then choose not to be the next.”
Cole believes leaders know what they don’t know, which inspires them to be good listeners, smart thinkers, and conscientious seekers of information. As he tells us, a leader doesn’t want to be the smartest person in the room; leaders prefer to surround themselves with those who are experts in their fields.
Cole identifies nine behaviors of real leaders, ranging from never acting on the spur of the moment to always doing what needs to be done to making criticism constructive rather than negative.
Of course, some of these behaviors are innate. But business leaders hope they are teachable, too. In an article for People Matters titled “Creating Tomorrow’s Leaders,” author Guillaume Gevrey describes the latest approach to building tomorrow’s leaders: “(Companies) are now looking at creating leadership incubators to impart the required leadership and management skills. . . . Leadership incubators, also popularly known as greenhouse (programs), are based on action learning.”
Convinced that action learning is the essential ingredient required for creating tomorrow’s leaders, Gevrey adds: “For participants, it is a more engaging way to develop critical skills that they will need as they grow in the organization but also a sign that their leadership trusts them to solve mission-critical problems.”