The 4 Essential Elements of Leadership
We cannot stress the importance of leadership enough! It is a bit of a tricky subject. Leadership is a type of role and is different for everyone. However, there are certain ‘elements’ that can be studied and applied to your own strengths in order to improve them.
The four essential elements of leadership are:
Oftentimes it is said that leaders are born, not made. There are others who believe that while you can’t teach someone to be a leader, you can give them the right leadership tools they need to be the best leader they can be. These 4 essential elements of leadership are one such tool (well, a set of tools) that allow people to reach their full potential as leaders.
These elements are critical to maintaining a strong team and should be mastered by any leader. In this article, we will explore each of these elements and show how you can use them to be a better leader in your organization.
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The first element of leadership is vision. A leader must have a vision that outlines the direction he or she wants to take the organization and an ability to see what needs to be done to get there. Vision is the mental picture of what can be, as opposed to a focus on what currently exists. Leaders must be able to see beyond their current circumstances to a desired future state.
A leader’s vision is what they see for the future of their team or organization. So, how do you go about developing your vision?
Leadership is all about being a visionary, having foresight and inspiring others to follow you on your onward journey. A vision is essentially the mental image of what you want to achieve. It is the overall purpose or aim that gives direction to your team’s efforts, thus helping them see the big picture and giving them a sense of purpose.
All great leaders have a vision because it creates an imaginary finish line for everyone to work towards. When you have a vision, it gives you something to work towards. A clear vision provides motivation, direction and inspiration to your team members. Without this, there is no sense of purpose, no clear goals and no way for them to measure their own performance.
Here are 3 key components that will help you into creating a vision:
A successful leader understands where his or her organization is going and creates a path for getting there. Which leads us to our net element, planning.
We have already said that great leaders should be able to clearly articulate their vision. And the clarity of their vision shows in their plan. Having a clear vision is great, but it won’t matter unless you have a plan for getting there. You need something that turns that big-picture idea into short-term actionable items that can be used as benchmarks
You might be familiar with the old saying “fail to plan, plan to fail”. This is especially true for leaders as they look to achieve their vision of success. In order to guide others, leaders must have a clear roadmap of where they are going and how they will get there.
A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there. When you create a plan, you can minimize the risk of having an unpleasant surprise. If you don’t have a good plan, chances are that your business will fail.
There are many different planning methods out there and not all of them will work for everyone. It is important to find what works best for you and your team. A few simple tips to help in your planning include:
The planning stage is not only about ensuring everything gets done properly but also that everything happens in the right order and at the right time. It’s also about matching resources with tasks, be they human or physical.
A good plan should include:
It’s easy to confuse planning with vision, but in reality, they are two very different things. The vision provides direction, while planning provides a structure for achieving that direction.
The business leader’s role during the planning process is to ensure there are no obstacles to getting the work done and that all parties involved are aware of what their responsibilities are and how they will be measured when their work is complete.
In other words, a leader must think of the “journey” to success!
Our discussion of the four elements of leadership comes with a focus on execution. We talked about setting a vision for your organization, and then talked about planning for success. Here, we’re going to talk about execution. It is crucial for a leader to understand what it takes to execute well. Having a good vision and plan—means nothing if you can’t execute them well!
Execution is what bridges the gap between planning and results. It is the journey that starts with a vision and, as we’ll see later in this post, ends with an evaluation. Simply put, execution is the process of getting things done. Leadership is about making things happen. Whether it’s growing a business, building a boat, or leading a team, leadership requires doing things that have never been done before the same way. In other words, great leaders are great executors. They bring their visions to life by executing them exceptionally well.
Execution is what turns plans into action and makes vision a reality. Vision is pointless without execution, and plans are just speculation without it. When it comes to execution, leaders often face one of two problems: either they are too involved with their team, or they are not involved enough. It can be easy for leaders to micromanage teams or become too involved in the day-to-day tasks of the business – this creates a distrust between you and the team members who are meant to be supporting you in your role as leader. On the opposite side of the spectrum, sometimes leaders become too removed from the day-to-day activities of their business – this is particularly common when businesses grow rapidly and quickly outgrow their original space and team structure. This can lead to poor communication within a company, which can result in stressed employees and unhappy customers.
Execution may be the part of leadership that can be most difficult because it’s not always intuitive. You can’t simply assert or demand that things happen — you have to make them happen. How?
Be proactive! Executing a plan means turning ideas into action, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until you’ve finished planning to start acting. In fact, if you wait until your plan is done before taking any action at all, you’ve already failed at execution. Plans are never perfect or complete when they’re created — they’re intended to grow and change as things progress.
That said, however, it should always be within the confines of the “big picture”!
There’s no overall execution process to be applied everywhere because the size and nature of organizations, and the goals on hand, vary greatly. But generally speaking, to execute your vision plan, or any plan for that matter, you need three things:
Execution is about doing and going, not planning and talking. It’s about making things happen, not just talking about what should happen. There are a lot of good ideas out there but many of them never see reality because the people who think of them don’t have the ability to execute them. Execution is hard work but it’s also the fun part of leadership because this is where all your work comes together and you start seeing some results. And on the mention of “results”, we come to the fourth element of leadership.
Last but not least, evaluation is one of the fundamentals of leadership. While the other three elements of leadership are often thought of as fixed and unchanging, evaluation is a necessary, ongoing element that allows leadership to be dynamic. It’s a regular assessment of the leader’s own performance and the performance of their team.
As a leader, you must have checkpoints built into your vision so that you can regularly assess whether or not you’re on track to achieve your goals.
It is important to set checkpoints at regular intervals throughout the execution phase. This gives an opportunity to make adjustments as required. All staff must be informed about the checkpoints and the formalization of their role in their creation. The evaluation phase is also a time for team building. However, it must not be overlooked that this is an opportunity for creative thinking and problem solving. The evaluation phase will allow the leader to change the course of action if it becomes necessary.
Checkpoints will help you identify areas that need more attention, either from you as a leader or from your team. Checkpoints will also help you identify milestones so that you can reward yourself and your team for reaching them.
You should always be evaluating yourself as a leader; assessing whether or not your execution is working, whether or not your team is completing tasks on time and if they’re meeting your expectations. If any of these things aren’t happening, it might be time to reevaluate the situation and figure out what’s missing: Either the vision needs to be adjusted, your team needs additional guidance or training, or perhaps some additional planning is needed.
Planning, executing, evaluating, and planning again is the cycle of effective leadership.
Effective leaders are thinking and acting on multiple levels at once but never losing sight of their goal and objective (or that is what they should strive for). It is important to help your team members understand how they can get better results in the workplace.
To ensure clarity of leadership and structure, it is vital a team or organization to use software tools to be more effective and productive!
That’s when Allactivity becomes a must, offering to you not only a Workspace but also a Personal Space to organize your own projects. Last but not least, sharable, and actionable insights are provided that will help you to identify unproductive processes even before they happen.
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