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Defining leadership: 7 tips for becoming an inspiring leader

To the point Explore the crucial role of leadership in achieving corporate objectives, focusing on the seven key competencies of an effective leader.

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At a time when the concept of influence is omnipresent, presenting yourself as an influential leader is essential. This is true in every field. Finance is an excellent example.

But what makes a leader worthy of the name? We invite you to take your thinking one step further in this article. Review the definition of leadership and learn more about the seven core competencies of a true leader.

The definition of leadership

As you may have noticed, the definition of leadership takes on different faces from one article or video to the next. But the basics remain the basics. According to our team, the best definition is as follows:

Leadership is defined as the ability to guide, influence and inspire a team to achieve a clearly defined vision and common goals.

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The 5 types of leadership

Leadership type or style is anything but static. Which just goes to show how wrong it is to think that you have to identify with one of them all the time. The truth is, the right style to adopt depends very much on the context in which you find yourself. This same flexibility is one of the qualities of an influential leader – more on that later.

At present, the 5 most frequently mentioned types of leadership are as follows:

Assertive or authoritarian (autocratic)

Objective: convince and defend your ideas

The assertive leader style involves highlighting disagreements or preferences. Through clear communication channels, the latter, with specific authority, invites his team to adopt new ideas and perspectives, leaving little room for manoeuvre.

A reminder of workplace policies and certain rules is a good example. The assertion channel also allows you to issue consequences, recall hierarchical positions and more.

Rational or transformational

Objective: convince and defend your ideas while bringing a solid vision and a sense of innovation.

Here, the leader backs up his ideas with highly objective foundations such as reasoning and logic. He inspires and motivates his team. Benchmarks such as data, research, expert reviews and facts are an integral part of the rational leader’s role.

Inspiring

Objective: to bring together and unify a group of people

An inspiring leader knows how to pull the right strings thanks to his storytelling skills and charisma. His aim: to motivate his team to achieve one or more common objectives by raising stimulating possibilities. Enthusiasm and optimism are essential to win support and generate the desired emotion.

Rallying or Democratic

Objective: to bring people together and unify them

The active commitment of the leader type is to create links with and between others. That’s why listening is a central criterion: it enables us to grasp the needs of the other parties. Ultimately, strong connections and even coalitions are forged, often with specific goals in mind. Here, the leader makes decisions in consultation with the team, encouraging participation and feedback.

Negotiator

Objectives: all of the above

As the name suggests, this style is all about making compromises or concessions. The ultimate goal is to find common ground through solutions that everyone can agree on.

It’s perfectly normal and expected to have your own preferences when it comes to leadership style(s). However, influential leadership adapts according to the challenges and needs it encounters in its environment. Experience, team feedback and adaptability are a winning combination for all accomplished and aspiring leaders.

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The role of leadership in achieving objectives

As mentioned above, leadership plays a crucial role in achieving an organization’s various objectives. Here are just some of the ways in which influential leaders achieve their goals:

Training and skills development

Regardless of the industry in which it operates, a company must keep pace with the evolution and innovation of its market. Training courses, conferences, symposia and in-house skills development programs are convincing ways of achieving this.

Orientation and direction

As a leader, you need to give your teams clear, proactive direction. If several objectives are involved, prioritization is also necessary. Unsurprisingly, the leader must be able to motivate individuals, notably through incentives and bonuses linked to achieving objectives.

Leaders guide their team members by providing clear direction. They establish strategies and plans for achieving objectives and ensure that everyone understands their role and responsibility in achieving them.

Resource management

Successful projects require not only teams but also resources. We’re talking about time, materials, equipment and all the other resources essential to making a company’s offer a reality. In addition to his various roles, the leader must take care of this management, even if it means calling in a right-hand man or an expert consultant.

The challenges facing today’s leader

The business environment is constantly changing. And the more things go, the faster the changes. These include the expectations of new generations of workers, technological advances and the contribution of artificial intelligence.

This movement presents leaders with a host of challenges, affecting their daily lives and those of their teams. These include:

Inclusion and diversity

This topical issue concerns companies from all walks of life. Every leader must ethically promote openness to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This is a major human resources challenge in a world where attracting and retaining talent is a real tour de force!

Digital transformation

More than an option, digital transformation has become a necessity for most companies. Staying competitive also means integrating emerging technologies in your field, which in particular enable greater profitability and optimal resource management.

Talent management

Talent management is a sprawling challenge for leaders: it dramatically influences the management of all the other challenges they face.

It’s well known that attracting and retaining quality talent is increasingly difficult. You have to constantly think “outside the box” to stand out from the crowd. Creativity and boldness are essential.

Work-life balance

New generations of workers have many expectations when it comes to work-life balance. Expectations that are more numerous and varied than those previously expressed in the world of work. Leaders must redouble their efforts to offer this balance without compromising productivity.

Mental health in the workplace

Thanks to access to information, mental health is now a real concern for companies. Leaders need to be open and sensitive to their environment. They must also promote their workplace’s preventive strategies. These include employee assistance programs, wellness resources and more.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Faced with major social concerns, such as the environmental impact of the commercial world, CSR is imperative. It is now part of an organization’s ethical sphere. Conscious leadership in the workplace is the lifeline of CSR strategies, which must be in line with the human values of any brand.

Cybersecurity

Internal and external operations and communications are more digital than ever. A leader must ensure that the security of his company’s data, and that of the individuals within it, is invincible. In some cases, it’s up to them to find out about the appropriate protective measures, innovations, and trends in their market.

The 7 characteristics of an influential leader

An impressive array of criteria forge the profile of an inspirational leader. How to find your way around? By consulting the following seven characteristics, in which the main skills and qualities are grouped.

Adaptability

One of the quotes from the famous physicist Stephen Hawking emphasizes that “intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” If intelligence was a characteristic frequently raised to describe the leader for many years, we now understand that it’s the strength of adaptation that we wanted to highlight instead.

Indeed, this form of flexibility lies at the heart of the definition of leadership. This is even truer in an age of fast-moving industries. It’s easy to see why adaptability is a decisive factor when it comes to meeting the needs of our market.

Advanced communication skills

To inspire a group of people, you must excel as a communicator. For example, ideas must be conveyed clearly and in a way that appeals to everyone. The message must always be well thought-out and coherent in every situation and represent the company’s values.

And that’s without taking into account the leader’s oral communication skills. The latter has to deal with different criteria to produce the desired results. A confident voice, confident posture and a well-punctuated speech are just a few examples.

Power of persuasion

Persuasion can take many forms in the leader-team relationship. It is often used to promote a specific idea but also to deconstruct certain expectations or concepts active in a group. It goes without saying that persuasion and communication go hand in hand in all possible forms of leadership.

This persuasive power is also closely linked to the level of trust observed in the relationship. The more trust there is with an employee, the easier it will be for the leader to get them to see other possibilities.

Vision

The ability to make choices for the common good of the present without compromising our vision of the future is characteristic of influential leaders. This ability enables him to manage projects effectively, keeping a firm focus on medium- and long-term corporate objectives.

Visionaries are often highly creative. She knows how to design different scenarios for a brand, drawing on her knowledge of the market, the expertise of her teams and more.

Conflict management

Managing conflict means more than being able to settle a disagreement between two employees, for example, or a group of people. There are also logistical, administrative, operational and management conflicts. Seeing solutions on several levels is, therefore, one of the hats of leadership.

But that’s not all! You also need to know how to prevent conflict situations. The leader’s vision is the key to foreseeing potential difficulties.

Ability to make decisions

In some companies, leaders are responsible for making important decisions. They generally hold a position that gives them greater authority and enables them to make far-reaching choices that can change the course of an organization’s history.

Several factors influence these decisions, and several consequences can result. Decision-making is, therefore, often the subject of substantial pressure for the leader.

Sense of ethics

In a nutshell, having a sense of ethics means being able to discern what is morally right or wrong in a given situation. It’s an open concept, based on human values and a sharp moral conscience.

Ethics remain complex and constantly evolving. Influential currents, such as philosophy, religion, society, etc., require a significant general culture on the part of the leader.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is leadership?

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Beyond its formal definition (see the introduction to this article), what exactly is leadership? Is it a quality, a skill, a gift for communication? As you will have seen as you read on, all these possibilities can be applied. Leadership is a complex vector of skills and abilities, based on a person’s expertise, experience, emotional intelligence and charisma.

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What makes a good leader?

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A good leader is defined by several key qualities:

  • a clear and inspiring vision for his team,
  • the ability to communicate effectively and motivate others,
  • ethics in all its actions,
  • an understanding of the issues and needs of each situation,
  • an ability to delegate tasks and build trust,
  • an ability to learn from mistakes,
  • and a taste for innovation and creativity within the team.

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Is leadership innate, or can it be learned?

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Everyone has heard the expression “born leader”. While it’s true that some people are naturally suited to this role (communication skills, charisma, intelligence, etc.), being a good leader is also something that has to be learned. Experience, consultation with inspiring leaders, training and other parameters can lead to leadership.

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How do you develop your leadership skills?

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Training, experience and positive feedback in the workplace are good ways to develop leadership skills. The help of a mentor may also prove useful.

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What emotional qualities are important for a leader?

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It’s not uncommon to come across the concept of “emotional intelligence” when consulting information about leadership. This is no coincidence. A conscious and influential leader necessarily possesses emotional qualities such as empathy, openness, the ability to listen, a sense of communication, creativity and so on.

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Is it possible to have more than one leader in the same company?

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Absolutely. A company and its team can never be too motivated or inspired to bring a project to fruition. Here, hierarchical guidelines become important reference points, enabling each leader to invest according to his or her level of experience, influence and expertise.

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This post is also available in: FR

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Audrey
Mother of two young children, pharmacist, travel hacker's wife and frequent traveller, Audrey shares her advices and destinations recommendations on milesopedia.

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