Leadership Challenges 2017

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My personal and professional focus has been on “how” people communicate, persuade and connect with each other, both on a personal level and on a societal level.

Politics can disrupt any business plan, and the greatest challenge to the leaders of business is to respond in such a way that their integrity and their companies plans come to fruition. There was a time when a man’s word was his bond, his handshake was real. The current reality is that many political leaders, don’t know the meaning “my word is my bond” Integrity has fallen to the wayside, as if it is an inconvenience.

Every word spoken, text and tweet is stored somewhere, to be regurgitated or used for attack or support. Social media has become a war zone – each side positioning, counter positioning and attacking each other. Fake news, words taken out of context and placed next to images to cause doubt and fear.

If you are leading a small company or a large corporation the challenges are similar, to keep your word, act with integrity and lead with an open mind. Today this is a great challenge as people have become polarized and organizations can be easily distracted, divided against its self. Leadership is particularly difficult when so many are acting in self-interest rather than focusing on what’s best for people. Many will say that this is a naïve point of view, after all the purpose of the business is to make money! But I ask you if you do not lead with integrity, if you do not speak with integrity you further erode civility and society in general and then where will your business be?

“Honesty is the best policy”, Benjamin Franklin

Honesty has become a rare commodity in this cynical age of the spin doctor and the PR agent. Imagine for a moment where you cannot trust anything that is said to you, that is promised to you?

Characteristics of an Authentic Leader

Leadership is the ability to inspire and influence a group of people to achieve worthwhile goals. A leader is one who can influence and inspire people for a far greater cause other than his own. To appreciate the true value of leadership we must first know the characteristics of a leader and what a leader is generally made up of:

  • Leaders have character and integrity
  • Leaders connect with people and they have a positive attitude
  • Leaders know and focus on what is important
  • Leaders have a vision
  • Leaders constantly learn & grow
  • Leaders are committed to their ideals
  • Effective leaders initiate change and are great communicators

The Authentic Leader…

I believe that today the role of leadership has shifted and an even greater focus is on being able to communicate at all levels. The pervasive influence of ‘Twitter’, ‘Facebook’, ‘LinkedIn’ and Internet news blogs have increased the need and range of all forms of communications.

Whether you call yourself a leader, a manager, a coach, a parent, an administrator, or a president, your most important resource is your people. The most crucial element of success (in reaching your goal) is your ability to influence, inspire, motivate and encourage your people.

It is said that Walt Disney could squeeze out the creativity from the artists’ minds after they themselves believed that the ideas had dried up. Walt Disney helped people go a step beyond to make fantasyland real. Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau inspired a nation to action, with energy and vision to begin the journey to a true national Canadian identity. Mother Theresa inspired us all by giving nourishment to the hearts of all people. Martin Luther King Jr. gave new meaning to the way society looks at itself. US President J.F. Kennedy changed the course of US and world history with the commitment to put a man on the moon.

These leaders had something in common. They had the ability to move people to greater achievements, to appeal to the individual’s highest motives and to help everyone feel involved. Their leadership skills are relevant in all roles where success depends on the ability to influence and motivate others to action.

Those who have the talent to call others to committed action are often referred to as leaders or great communicators. They weren’t born leaders or communicators the day they entered the world! They became leader’s day that they acted with commitment, integrity and inspired people to action.

To effectively reach, inspire and persuade people today, values-based communication and authenticity are essential. Today’s employee, and consumer has unprecedented access to information and choices, they are different from any that preceded.

To ignore the way that they think and their high level of awareness and discernment can spell disaster for the leader, presenter and communicator. If ill prepared for communicating with this audience, the presenter and leader will lack the skills and knowledge necessary to be effective.

My personal belief is that leaders are ordinary people who discover their greatness, uniqueness and abilities while trying to overcome extraordinary challenges.

2017 will bring extraordinary challenges and develop extraordinary leaders.

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