ood leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Tat was just one of our conclusions
from the research we conducted with more than 60 leaders who either classified themselves, or were nominated by someone else, as ‘good’. We wanted to discover whether there were any themes in leadership qualities, attitudes and traits in good leaders and whether there were any common problems that good leaders share. Te results were overwhelming and have significant implications for the future of leadership development and the design of leadership development programmes.
The diverse range of leaders
In the study, we asked a set of multiple choice questions – which were profiling questions – and a
number of open questions, such as: ``
Which aspects of what you do in your leadership position are enjoyable?
Which aspects of what you do in your leadership position do you dislike?
What would you describe as your keys to success?
`` `` ``
What are the main challenges you face in life in general (that is, not just in this context)?
Which qualities do you admire in other people?
Which qualities do you dislike in other people?
Tere were some overwhelming themes in the answers to the open questions but the multiple choice questions were broadly in line with the population average. Good leaders
generally agreed on what made a good leader, but there were many ways in how to do it. Tis is how we created the five traits of successful and authentic leaders. Tese
are that good leaders: ``
Use feedback to succeed. Take considered risks.
Are forward thinking and flexible.
Do what they say and say what they do.
Develop real relation- ships with people.
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Tese traits are possible for anyone to develop, while staying true to themselves – no personality transplant required! Good leadership development is not about changing people’s personalities; we need fewer robots in business. It is to do with helping leaders to develop successful ways to achieve the traits.
Common problems most leaders encounter
Our study uncovered two major themes in terms of problems good leaders find challenging – time management and people problems. Tey’ll come as no surprise to L&D professionals, but what is surprising is the extent to which they caused leadership issues and wasted company time and energy.
Time management Te majority of participants, 75 per cent, said that work and the rest of their life flowed well most of the time, while 25 per cent felt it was a constant juggling act. In the main, most of our participants were balancing their balance in work and life well. However, more than 80 per cent of
respondents mentioned use of time as a problem with their role. Te issues around time included achieving a bal- ance between all the things they want- ed to do, getting distracted and general prioritisation and organisation issues.
People problems While more than 75 per cent of participants cited working with people as something they like about their role and something they were good at, problems with some types of behaviour were present in more than 70 per cent of respondents’ answers. Other people are leaders’ greatest joy and greatest problem. Issues with other people fell into three key unlikeable behaviours; arrogance, laziness and bullying.
Our study uncovered two major themes – time management and people problems
❝ Leadership development
programmes need to help leaders to address these problems. Te problem is, as L&D professionals know, that training people to deal with these is easier said than done. Many development programmes are too simplistic and don’t work with the individual psychology of the leader. Tis results in, at best, them only coming away with a few hints and tips and not fundamentally new strategies for working with these issues.
The importance of emotional regulation in leadership development
Underneath all the talents and skills of great leadership lies emotional regulation. We say emotional regulation rather than emotional stability because the term ‘emotional stability’ often implies no emotion. Tat’s not helpful. Having access to the appropriate emotion for any given
moment is the stable base upon which all other
leadership traits are built. If leaders have too many
fight, flight and freeze (survival) chemicals running around their brains and bodies they will not be
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