The Key to Effective Leadership

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Are leaders born or made? In business and work, we often ask ourselves this question. With no clear answer, other questions arise: Are there people who have innate leadership qualities? How do I distinguish between those who have the potential to lead and those who don’t? In today’s business environment, organizations urgently need to have the answers to these questions. Change is now a constant, and globalization provides a new set of challenges. Much of the success of modern organizations depend on effective leadership. When we talk about effective leadership, we mean leadership that is capable of inspiring others toward a vision, fostering innovation, and driving change.  

Having studied leadership theories and supported leaders in the industry, I would like to share what I believe to be the key to effective leadership and try to respond to those questions mentioned earlier. First, it is important to base all our assumptions about leadership on a fundamental belief that “leaders are made”. We all have an undeniable ability to change and transform ourselves. Therefore, leadership is a process of evolution that is nourished by experiences and learning. Leadership skills and competencies can be developed over time. Secondly, there is an element that serves as the foundation for leadership development and will directly impact their level of effectiveness. This foundational element of leadership development is the quest for authenticity.

Authenticity means being what we say we are. Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic, interviewed 125 leaders during his journey on understanding at a deeper level what makes a leader successful. Through this process, he identified that those leaders who demonstrate authenticity achieve outstanding results in the business world. In his book, True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, he explains how authentic leaders can bring people together toward a common purpose, empower others, and create value for all stakeholders. Authenticity-based leadership is characterized by passionately pursuing a purpose, practicing values, leading from the heart, building long-term relationships, and demonstrating self-discipline.

Developing authenticity awakens the leader in all of us. As a result, we can help others cross thresholds and innovate to add value to the world. The path to your authenticity begins with a journey inward to achieve greater self-knowledge. You can start your quest toward authenticity by reflecting on these questions:

  • What do you value?
  • What is important to you over other things?
  • In which activities do you feel happier and with the feeling that you have done something valuable for yourself and others?
  • What are your strengths as a leader?
  • What areas do you need support from others?

As you develop your leadership skills or support the development of other leaders, remember the words of the great psychologist Erich Fromm: “Know who you are. Discover your talents and your purpose in life. This will lead you to do what you love and because you do things with love, you will get what you need.”