AKALI Academy - Blog Posts What you must have to be an effective leader

What must you have to be an effective leader?

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

Tom Peters

On my pursuit to become an effective leader I realized that self-confidence was only a very small piece of the puzzle. Self-confidence plays is an undeniable trait of a leader (as we had the opportunity to underline in our last post). It’s what plays an important role in decision-making and gaining the trust and respect of others. But, it’s not enough!

So, I dove deeper on the understanding of what I must have to be a leader that gets things done.

First I asked some of my colleagues what they thought of me as a leader. One of the best answers that I got was the following:

“As a leader, Liliana is highly intuitive. She selects you for the job she knows you can handle and lets you be creative with your own work. Responsibility is the key message she gives out. Take ownership, deliver in time and show progress, and she’ll show appreciation, give guidance and completely support your vision throughout the project.”

Mónica MartinsAMARNA Vida’s Product Development Director

From this statement, these are my takeaways: “highly intuitive”, “let you be”, “take ownership”, “deliver in time”, “show progress”, “show appreciation”, “give guidance”, “completely support your vision”.

Wauuu! This made my day!

By this statement, I realized that I was fulfilling the role I wanted as a leader. I realized that I am a motivator. I inspire. I let people be. I give the opportunity for people to take ownership and be responsible.

That’s it!

Because my major concern as a leader is to empower my collaborators and colleagues to become leaders. To make them believe that they can fly but can also rely on me as their parachute. That I am there to show them where it’s possible to reach, but let them build the path to get there. At each milestone, we check together if we are still in the direction that leads us to our destiny.

I rejoiced, even more, when I read the article: 9 Vital Leadership Behaviors That Boost Employee Productivity – The keys to increase discretionary effort”, where Dr. Joe Folkman states, according to a research study, that one of the nine behaviors that, if improved, have the greatest impact on employee satisfaction/commitment, is to Inspire and Motivate Others.

More than “push” collaborators to accomplish tasks in their job, effective leaders “pull” collaborators. Effective leaders make collaborators unlock their potential by relying on them, on their worth and value. By doing so, leaders trigger, in a positive way, collaborators to unlock a level of additional effort, energy, and creativity that can make the difference in any project or business.

The challenge behind becoming an inspiring leader is that people aren’t taught how to do it. How many leaders know how to “pull” their workers? How many leaders, when challenged to “pull” more, know what to do?

This is not just some whim. This is a major thing given that, according to Dr. Joe Folkman ’s article when a manager becomes more effective in terms of his or her ability to be Inspiring and Motivating, the level of employee Satisfaction/Commitment goes way up.

Because of this, being both an inspiration and motivational is my main trait as a leader, and I am determined to improve it! I choose to focus on this behavior since I feel it will have the greatest impact on my role as a leader. I choose to work on making this trait my most profound strength.

So, what can I do to become a more inspiring leader?

Considering what the mentioned research showed, I have to focus on ten companion behaviors that described what an inspiring leader actually does:

1. Making the Emotional Connection

2. Setting Stretch Goals

3. Having a Clear Vision

4. Communication

5. Developing Others

6. Being Collaborative

7. Being Innovative

8. Taking Initiative

9. Being a Champion in Change

I must be honest. I’m not flawless in my leadership, and therefore I do have my fair share of shortcomings in some of them. I’m not perfect, and I bet neither are you.

So, I decided to strengthen four of these competencies:

  • Developing Others
  • Having a Clear Vision
  • Making the Emotional Connection
  • Setting Stretch Goals

Really, you can trust me on this.

My major goal as a leader is to care about developing my collaborators.

Make them pursue their dreams and passions, and stay tuned with what fulfills them. Make them question if they are on the right track. Make them question if they are moving forward. Because I know, that by them doing so, they will “skyrocket”. They will put more effort into it. They will feel limitless. They will take responsibility for their own actions. They will be more. They will give more. They will get more.

Being an Inspiring Leader is one of my major goals in life.

But I know if I want to aspire to become a Great Leader I have to improve other leadership traits.

So, by having the research conducted by Dr. Joe Folkman, I know that I have to improve eight other behaviors:

        Driving for results

        Strategic perspective


        “Walk the talk”


        Develop and Support Others

        Building Relationships


Let me break it down with you.

How will I manage these behaviors? What do I have to do to become a master in each one of them?

Let’s start with Driving for Results.

I am aware of the importance of driving for results. During my youngest years, I was all about that. I would push myself to get the results I wanted and I stayed focus on them. Years passed by, and my professional and personal life showed me that a “push” behavior was not always the best answer to accomplish success. In fact, by having a more “pull” leadership approach nowadays, my major challenge is to have a healthy balance between “pull” and “push” behaviors. What I have been doing, is to make collaborators part of a priority goals establishment. Make them as their own. And make them believe that they are responsible for a higher level of performance and continually remind them of their progress towards the goal.

Strategic Perspective, one of my favorite traits. And the one that I will be more focused on, I am committed to paint a clear perspective of the “big picture” and also give details of the day-to-day activities. To reinforce where we are heading to and the key steps to get there.

Even though is not one of the items where I need to pay more attention, Collaboration is one of the behaviors that I want to improve in the near future. What is in consideration is the promotion of a high level of cooperation between a workgroup and other groups to create a positive and productive atmosphere in the organization.

And here it is: Walk the Talk. My favorite behavior. As much as a very basic and fundamental skill it is, the fact is that: ”feel, think and behave exactly the same way” is an example of being honest and acting with integrity. That’s why one of the major questions that I (always) ask myself is: “Am I walking my talk?”.

This one I can ask you about it. Tell me, considering what you know of me by writing, do you Trust me? Because Trust is one of the keys to becoming a great leader. That’s why I give so much importance to “rock-solid” honesty and integrity. That’s why I project confidence in my ability to make informed decisions. That’s why I do my best to be consistent and predictable.

Developing and Supporting Others: this is what makes me thrilled! It’s true! I know that I can go further on this, but I do my best to create a learning environment in which collaborators feel encouraged to learn from mistakes, take the time to analyze their successes, and understand what went well or bad.

Always a struggle: Building Relationships. I am that kind of leader who stays in touch with personal issues of collaborators. I cannot do it in any other way. How could I be an inspiring leader and not be a relationship builder? But is not always easy to balance individual needs with “getting things done”. At least, not for me. It’s a case-by-case issue. No general formulas for it. But nevertheless, I usually create a strong positive relationship with team members.

Well, let’s talk about Courage. Not a big deal. I know that I have the Courage to address issues, resolve conflicts, and insist that everyone is held accountable.

AKALI Academy Blog Post What you must have to be an effective leader

Personally, these are the points that I personally consider the key to becoming a great leader. Since I don’t have any major flaw, my priority is to develop three strengths, as according to Dr. Joe Folkmman’s study, “(…) leaders with three strengths had commitment scores at the 72nd percentile, while leaders with one strength were at the 62nd percentile (…)”.

In my personal case, I am focused on improving: Driving for Results, Strategic Perspective, and Developing and Supporting Others.

Let’s see how I will do it. Stay tuned. I will keep you updated.

And what about you?

Did you ever think which traits you can improve to become an effective leader? Do you think that, for example, inspiration and motivation is just something that you do only on your company’s “Christmas dinner” or other “big occasion”? Or, do you instead, give importance to details? And make inspiration and motivation a day-to-day task? Do you take a few minutes to go around and ask people how they are doing, thank them and encourage them to do more? Do you share with your colleagues and collaborators your optimism and passion for the work you are doing?

If not, start doing it. That counts!

I share with you three video presentations that explore even more the traits needed to be a great leader. Set aside some minutes. Put your headphones. Relax. Listen. And take responsibility for your role as a leader:

      How To Be A Leader – The 7 Great Leadership Traits

        Brian Tracy – 7 Essential Qualities of All Great Leaders

        Roselinde Torres – What it takes to be a great leader

The traits that we have been discussing so far are a combination of what several kinds of literature consider as three pillars of an effective leadership:

        “Who leaders are” (values, motives, personal traits, characteristics).

        What leaders know” (social and emotional skills, abilities, competencies)

        “What leaders do” (behaviors, habits, styles).

Traits alone, however, are not sufficient for a successful leadership.

There is another variable – the environment.

You can be a great leader on a company that operates in a fantastic city like San Francisco. But imagine yourself lead the same company in a country like Iran, for example. Not the same thing!

The environment presents risks and opportunities and modulates a leader’s ability to get results. In order to be successful, a leader needs to understand the environment in which he or she operates and adapt or acquire the necessary skills, qualities, and abilities in order to be effective.

That’s why you can be born with several traits that enable you to be a leader. But for you to become an effective leader, a leader that gets things done, and a leader that is able to create more leaders, you have to be trained. You have to exercise your “leadership muscles”. You have to test yourself to the limit and see if you really have what it takes to be a Great Leader.

Do you want to improve your leadership skills? Do you want to embrace the path to become an effective leader? Start by engaging our leadership training program, that will be available soon.

Please visit our website: https://www.akali-academy.com/

Looking forward to meeting you on my next post.

Bye for now,

Liliana Domingues

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