How to be a good leader

To mark National Leadership Week, we look at the qualities
essential to being a good leader. The first thing people need to
remember is that there is a big difference between being a leader
and being a manager. “Management is more about the day-to-day
running of a project or team and focuses on administrative tasks
needed to get the job done,” says Mike Petrook, spokesperson
for the Chartered Management Institute. “Leadership is more
dynamic and about creating a vision which people who work for you
will want to follow.”


Having a vision

Every leader needs a clear idea of what it is that they, their team
and organisation are trying to achieve, how and why. This is
particularly important for the many social care organisations that
are going through so much change at the moment, such as those
having to establish new, integrated ways of working.
“Organisations are facing a lot of requirements to respond
rapidly to change so they need people who can lead them through
such changes,” says Vanessa Robinson, adviser on organisation
and resourcing at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and


Communicating the vision

As Petrook said, leaders need to be able to communicate their
vision and inspire people to be part of it. If people do not
understand what it is that you, as a leader, are driving at or why,
chances are they will disengage from what you need and could resist
change. Unfortunately, according to research by the Chartered
Management Institute called Inspired Leadership, many
professionals do not feel part of an overall organisational vision.
The research found that

79 per cent of managers want their leaders to have a genuine shared
vision, but only 38 per cent have seen evidence of this in their
own organisations.

Look at your strengths and weaknesses

Assess what kind of leader you are. What would you say are your
core strengths and what areas need work? Be honest with yourself
about your weaknesses. If you can work out where you are lacking,
you can concentrate on improving those skills. According to
Robinson, key qualities that leaders need are the ability to manage
change, coach and motivate teams, inspire and empower people.
Consider how well you score on these areas.


Get skilled up

Once you have identified your weak spots, think about how you are
going to improve them. There are plenty of courses on leadership
issues, but make sure that you choose ones that are tailored to
your needs. Look at what your company has to offer. Also consider
checking any external courses that you think would be helpful. Many

opt to go down the MBA route and say it is the best, if most
difficult, thing they have ever done. Doing an MBA is a massive
time commitment, so make sure you know what you are taking on.
Think about more informal, continuing ways to learn new skills as
well, such as getting a mentor or networking with your


Look around you

Think about leaders who inspire you or have inspired you in the
past. What is it

that impressed you about their leadership style? What skills or
personal qualities

made them good leaders? While everyone has their own style of
leadership and you don’t want to just ape other people, it is
beneficial to learn from others. On the flip side, also think about
the failings of leaders you have worked with or met – you can
learn as much from other people’s mistakes as from their
positive qualities.


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