Leading the Way Is an Art – Not a Rite of Passage

Leading the Way Is an Art – Not a Rite of Passage

What do tomorrows  leaders need to be good at ‘today’, to create a business edge and success for the future?

Could effective and inclusive leadership be the typical and distinguishing factor?

In my 34 years in the Firefighting industry, I had the honour, trust and satisfaction in producing and have been part of fashioning over 700 of our new generation operational leaders… I guess this allows me to have an opinion on what makes a leader.   

I had noted that these potential leaders can be innate in the task i.e. born to it, or fashioned, but there are also those that simply rose to the occasion “cometh the hour cometh the man” – yet they all held paralleled traits. Each of these soon-to-be leaders were steadfast in personality (what makes you; you), their principles (what you know to be true), and their capabilities (what you know you can do).

Without Vision You Won’t Know Where to Look

Without vision you cannot inspire and motivate sustainable performance. Tunnel vision, no vision, vision with personal gain; vision that is inconsistent and erratic, will all lead to failure. It is the leader’s job to instil confidence in the process, the system and the people. Leaders without vision will fail; and leaders who lack vision will fail.

The Fire Departments leaders inspire trust and confidence in their troops, they communicate clearly and justly, all the while providing logical strategic and accomplished thinking. We teach them to form conviction so that there is a belief in their leadership, we teach them to enable and empower their crews, to set the example, to value their beliefs and ethics, and to use their underpinning knowledge of the job, and to build sound and functional teams.

What basic skill-sets did we look for in these potential leaders? The ability in…

  1. Building teams
  2. Decision making
  3. Strategic thinking
  4. Managing encounters and conflict
  5. Empowering their people
  6. Active and effective listening

The above basic skill-sets were only the foundations to which we built on; when creating and formulating the ‘Inclusive Leader’.

The Seven Pillars Too Effective ‘Inclusive’ Leadership

Inclusive leadership is the practice of management that wisely includes the influences and input of all stakeholders.

Researchers have identified the specific patterns of thinking and behaviours of Inclusive Leaders and how these translate into personal or business success.

  1. Commitment – they go beyond talking about the issues, and insert actions as a priority
  2. Knowledge or Awareness – they demonstrate this with others, with the system and with themselves.
  3. Inquisitiveness – they are self-aware, attentive and act on that mindfulness; as company rules, procedures and arrangements may propagate unconscious predisposition to bias. At times they must be prepared to hear differing opinions.
  4. Cultural intelligence – they are open-minded and have a desire to understand how others feel, view, engage and experience the world.
  5. Collaboration – companies and leaders that prioritise collaboration have been shown to be more likely to outgrow competitors
  6. Vision – good leaders must have insight and awareness far beyond their personal feelings, opinions, knowledge and experiences.
  7. Adaptive – to succeed, leaders must adapt by encouraging diverse business opportunities through varied ideas and various talent.

“Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.” — Bernard Montgomery British Field Marshal

Final Thoughts… Leading with Finesse

In the unstable, ambiguous, multifaceted and indefinite world of professionals, whether at a Fire Department incident, or in your workplace: Inclusive leadership can be the distinguishing factor to successful outcomes and consequences.

The moral of this blog is simply this; leaders need to be authentic, have an established history of success, place an emphasis on serving those they lead, act without favour malice or intent, be flexible, have a “Martial Artists” single-mindedness, and a predisposition toward action.

Individuals have always looked for people for guidance, to follow, to learn from, and to be inspired by.

We each need effective leaders in our lives so that we may grow, in the workplace and in the home. Marvellously, to develop and evolve even leaders need leaders; no one has finished the passage, there is no destination only the journey – we all need our sensei.

Dean S Hawkins

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