January 29, 2015
Great leaders focus more on developing the intangibles of leadership than on the tangible attributes of leadership you might find on most lists of “leadership competencies.” Think about someone you admire as a leader. What is it that makes them a great leader? Typically, people identify with characteristics like the ability to: Influence others, make decisions when there is considerable uncertainty, and show genuine commitment to a greater purpose. These intangibles are valued more than capabilities such as writing mission statements or creating strategic plans and budgets. The intangibles of leadership are more important than the tangibles.
In a previous blog, we discussed the notion that leaders must be great learners to be successful in today’s demanding world. Here is a distillation of two of the leadership intangibles for learners from that blog; these are the foundation for many other intangibles of great leadership:
Some other intangibles of great leaders that are often mentioned are qualities like influence, confidence, authenticity, trust, passion, commitment, and the ability to operate effectively under the pressures of limited resources, time, and certainty.
Owning your own learning and being reflective assist in the development of all of these intangibles. For example, authenticity comes from self-awareness, and self-awareness comes from reflection. Similarly, confidence and commitment come from learning to succeed, even when answers aren’t obvious but the outcomes are meaningful.
Here are some tips for mastering your intangibles of leadership:
You will notice almost immediately that you begin to think differently about your role. You will focus more on harder-to-grasp but more sophisticated ideas and behaviors. It may be frightening at first, but by week three, you will begin functioning at a higher level. By week six, you will know that you are well on the way to mastering the intangibles of leadership greatness.