How many books, quotes, training courses are there on leadership these days? The answer is A LOT and it’s a topic that continues to evolve with developing strong leaders being high on the organisational agenda. There are many ‘leadership qualities’ that are generally agreed as being essential such as: Connecting with people, inspiring others, having a strong vision, clear direction, positivity, creativity and authenticity. (And this list is by no means exhaustive). But what is it that makes a great leader stand out above the good ones?
During my time as a senior manager in the global corporate world, and my role as a career and leadership coach, I’ve worked with some brilliant leaders who’ve truly inspired me – and others. Yet it was at a recent, totally-unrelated-to-work, local event that I witnessed a shining example of GREAT leadership…
I sing in a choir, the award-winning contemporary ‘Rock Choir’ known for making singing accessible to all. Our Coventry & Warwickshire group was about to perform in a large concert, and we were naturally apprehensive.
A few of us, notably me, doubted whether we’d be able to sing one of our songs to a piano accompaniment, without the backing track, or our choir leader directly in front of us. We hadn’t performed on this scale before, in front of a paying audience and with a bunch of other amazing local choirs. Feelings of self-doubt were running high!
So I voiced my concern to our leader (who regularly demonstrates all the qualities in the list above) and without hesitation she just calmly and confidently assured me that we could do it. She believed in us so much that she had not even brought the backing track with her. Singing with the piano was our only option. No beat, no backing track…voices exposed.
We got on stage and sang our hearts out. Her belief in us had a direct impact on us all, inspiring us to raise our game; and we nailed ‘Halo’ by Beyoncé to thunderous applause from the audience. It struck me afterwards that she displayed one leadership quality that really sets her, and other great leaders, apart – and that is BELIEF.
It was such a simple and intuitive act on her part, but it really showcased for me how critical and effective BELIEF is for a leader: both belief in yourself to lead others, and belief in your team, or choir in our case! It also served as a useful reminder that even those of us with coaching expertise do feel the pangs of self-doubt on occasion. And how a great coach or leader can support us to raise our performance.
What’s your experience of great leadership? I’d love to hear your views….
Image courtesy of Rock Choir Ltd.