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Building Better Leaders for Your Company

Jun 12, 2008
When speaking about the importance of leadership, Fred Fielder and Martin Chemers wrote, "The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization." Perhaps this is why so many businesses are willing to pay for executive leadership training. It is also why there are many different programs across the country designed to improve leadership skills. Even though there several opinions about what makes a good leader, the following list includes some of the most frequently mentioned characteristics.

Communication Skills
Communication is an important skill for leaders to possess because they need to understand, instruct, guide and assist the people that they lead. Without the ability to acquire and share information, a leader will be very ineffective. Communication is also important because it forms the basis for relationships. And, according to Margaret Wheatly in Leadership and the New Science, "real power and energy is generated through relationships."

Management Skills
Management skills, which allow leaders to use resources effectively, are often developed through personal experience. Management requires broad vision and a willingness to delegate. Micromanaging is not a good form of leadership. A good leader will delegate responsibilities, trust people to fulfill them, and help team members grow. This attitude corresponds with Ralph Nader's notion that, "that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."

Personal Work Ethic
Personal example has long been recognized as one of the most effective ways to teach people. Consequently, if you want a hard-working team, you need to have a hard-working leader directing them. Since leaders are supposed to be part of a team rather than a task master, it is important that they carry their own share of responsibility. If they fail to participate, others will follow their example.

Humility
Humility is not a very common attribute that people associate with leadership but it is a valuable trait because a humble man is good at acknowledging others and listening to advice. Pride is not conducive to team work.

As you can see, leaders have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. Consequently, they need to be chosen carefully and trained well. Even if leaders posses all of the positive characteristics that we have reviewed, additional leadership training can help them improve their skill. And, with more training comes increased competence and confidence.

If you are not willing to invest in executive leadership training, you can still make internal adjustments to improve leadership inside your company. To do this, you should assess your leader's strengths and weaknesses, formulate a plan for improvement and carry it out. After all the work has been done, evaluate the results and gage your success.
About the Author
If you are willing to invest in executive leadership training though, you might want to look at the classes offered by Partners in Leadership (http://www.partnersinleadership.com/). They target several areas where most leaders can improve. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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