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Given the choice, smart people are always going to choose the best possible solution. Let’s be honest: you would have to be stupid beyond belief to accept average, good or even very good – if excellence was readily available.  Organisations that want to develop successfully, simply must hire, retain and develop Excellent Leaders.

It is a commercial reality that anyone (or anything) that is recognised as excellent, will command higher prices, be retained for longer and be desired more passionately than all others: this principle especially applies to leaders since their influence shapes entire nations – let alone businesses or other organisations.

Just in case you were wondering what Leadership Excellence looks like, I have provided the following clues:

  • Excellent Leaders understand that their standards set the benchmark for the organisations or departments that they head.
  • Excellent Leaders operate at the highest levels of personal and professional excellence – at all times.
  • Excellent Leaders are so categorised because of their capacity to learn new things quickly, transfer applicable knowledge to others, and to build environments where ceaseless learning is a basic way of life: not a tiresome chore.
  • People who do what they do because they have to, perform less efficiently, less consistently and with lower levels of cooperation than those who do what they do because they want to.
  • Excellent Leaders are highly skilled in the delicate art of individual motivation. Their ability to galvanise disparate people into strong, ambitious and focused teams, facilitates increased profitability – without increasing corporate overheads.

There is nothing better than being considered the very best!

Would it be right to describe the art of Excellent Leadership as: ‘the pinnacle of inter-personal communication allied to optimised management skills?’ Yes, that would be a fair statement. To put it very bluntly, Excellent Leaders personify governance at its very best. Leaders are afforded many benefits: time to learn on the job is rarely one of them. We live in an age where everything is moving at a rapid pace; leaders who fail to adapt quickly to ever-changing circumstances, soon become an obstacle to progress. It might be worth mentioning that removing hindrances to progress, represents one of the most passionate and instinctive reactions known to mankind.

Great leaders embody the qualities that those who follow them aspire to. Life under such a bright spotlight is not for everyone, but those best suited to the ceaseless acquisition of applicable knowledge, don’t find it difficult at all. A common mistake made by many leaders is to demand progress or change from those subject to their authority: while remaining essentially the same themselves. Leaders who think along those lines haven’t properly understood the fundamentals of ‘human economics.’

Asking people to do more, without first teaching them something new, offering them something better than they have now – or simply giving them more than they have previously received: is tantamount to asking them to demonstrate higher standards of leadership than they are being shown. Here’s the problem with that strategy: if people do actually manage to display such heightened levels of performance – without any direct input from you, their actions only serve to demonstrate that you are in fact, surplus to requirements. That’s not a good look.

So what other indicators distinguish people that are considered Excellent Leaders from others: who patently are not? Great leaders demonstrate the ability to identify, nurture, educate and to motivate other talented people is one of the most obvious hallmarks of someone who has been properly trained to be an Excellent Leader. Driven people absolutely hate wasting time: ignorance, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to accept good counsel all serve to waste both time and money on a grand scale. Excellent Leaders are extremely goal-centred individuals: who know that accomplishing agreed objectives requires much more than a propensity for telling other people what to do – any fool can do that.

For leaders to remain effective, teaching must form part of their strategy: meaning that they must be willing to listen and learn.

‘All learning comes from listening’ is a phrase that Excellent Leaders learn on their very first day of training and they immediately adopt that principle as their default setting. An idea can transform the mentality of a person in a split second. Vision and foresight are intrinsically linked. Foresight and forethought are also closely bound together, so leaders who fail to make their vision clearly known – stifle creative thinking. A shared ideal facilitates common bonds, which in-turn, inspires people to work harder, to be more enterprising, diligent and far more effective as a cohesive unit. Only someone with real vision would even contemplate wanting to be a genuinely Excellent Leaders, let alone encourage others to do the same.

People who have mastered how to maintain Excellent Leaders have another immensely powerful weapon in their armoury: ethical authority. Leaders can either ‘lean’ on their legal authority (powers that are strictly limited to your management status and governed by the rigid agreements that bind those subject to your authority) or leaders can rely on ‘ethical authority.’ Ethical authority is vastly superior because those who possess it retain the legal power that comes with their official office: but can also call upon the considerably more potent, ‘game-changing’ force that emanates from their personal standing.

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Simply put: leaders who command ethical authority will always get more done, than leaders who can only operate according to entrenched legal statutes. Not clear enough for you? People who deeply respect you for the person that you are, will work harder, remain more loyal, invest greater creative energy and be far more resolute, than people who merely show deference for a title that someone else bequeathed to you. Here’s the bottom line: excellence is a rarely exercised expression of authority and too few leaders have properly understood the commercial, human, organisational and practical benefits of proven Leadership Brilliance. If your leadership career is ‘all about the job,’ people are only legally and morally obliged to fulfil the requirements of the job and if you want more from them – you’ll probably have to pay more to get it.

Expecting better from people: without first demonstrating an example of the required standard, is dishonest, idiotic and futile.

Ethical leadership enriches people beyond the scope of their jobs and where this type of leadership is prevalent, people go above and beyond the call of duty – frequently and willingly: with money being the furthest thing from their minds. So are Excellent Leaders just single-minded elitists? No, absolutely not. The whole purpose of excellent leadership is to create an environment where people: who might not have previously considered the possibility of excelling can join the working elite through a structured programme of on-going personal and career development.

To my mind, the most compelling argument for pursuing leadership excellence as a way of life: is the profound effect it has on the people whom others might deem to be ‘lesser mortals.’ Leadership in its most impressive form inspires ‘the least’ to want more, to do more, to give more, to get more and in so doing, become ‘more.’ Excellent leadership manifests as transforming power that continually alters human dynamics and aspirations. Excellent Leaders envisage, facilitate and regulate change – and they achieve this difficult feat without bullying, threatening or over rewarding a single soul. Excellent leaders understand that a willingness to lead is good – but a preparedness to serve is better still.

Excellent Leadership requires an unquenchable appetite for knowledge and a ceaseless determination to improve.

Excellent Leadership is personified by selfless service. These individuals fully appreciate that expecting from others what they are unwilling to do themselves, amounts to little more than delusional hypocrisy. There are no guarantees that people will follow the standards that are set for them, but you can be fairly certain that they will not even attempt to meet such elevated standards if those who determined them: demonstrably fail to personally uphold them. Leading, by definition: exists in the moment. If at any point you decide to stop moving, your tenure as a leader is effectively over: even if you are allowed to keep your office, perks and job-title for a season thereafter.

‘The Law of Leadership Multiplication’ decrees that anyone in your charge is permitted to follow your example, so if your subordinates are fully compliant: they will stop learning, growing, aspiring, progressing and succeeding – just a few moments after you do. Being a Leader of Excellence is all about the ‘here and now.’ People with this mindset do not revel in former glories but are constantly in hot pursuit of the next level.

Mediocrity is a short cut to Nowhere Special – a road that is too easily and too often taken.

I do not wish to burst any bubbles or dash any heartfelt dreams – but I am a devoted realist so this needs to be said. If you are perfectly happy to operate in ‘normal’ mode: doing ‘normal’ things and leading others of the same disposition – that’s fair enough. If however, you ever find yourself competing with an Excellent Leader: you will lose. If your team submits bids for contracts with organisations: whom have also received tenders from a group guided by an Excellent Leader – your team will lose. If you continue to lead others using your default ‘normal’ setting: you will definitely lose your most talented people – the moment they have a personal encounter with anyone well-versed in demonstrable Leadership Excellence.

‘Life is far too short to waste on mediocrity’: this central principle is very well understood by ambitious people and corporations alike.

As a consumer, you want the best products or services available within your price range. Globalisation has made ‘shopping’ easier than ever before. Entire operations: involving tens of thousands of people are being shifted from one continent to another, as the search for enriched value continues apace. Demonstrating that you are truly a Leader of Excellence will ensure that businesses or organisations searching for first-class management skills, lower overheads, improved organisational cohesion, bigger profits and faster solutions: stop at your door – instead of walking straight past it.

Just a few pertinent questions before we part company:

  • When people speak of Excellent Leadership – are they talking about you?
  • When the term ‘ethical authority’ is being used – is someone describing their experiences having been subject to your headship?
  • Given the choice between reasonable, very good or genuinely excellent – which would you pick?
  • One final question: what will the future hold for you if when all of these important questions are answered truthfully – your name is nowhere to be seen?

Time waits for no one – but has even less patience where leaders are concerned.’ Leaders are afforded many things by way of recompense for their dedication and service, but more time to produce average results is seldom one of them.

Yes, being considered an Excellent Leader represents the pinnacle of modern management and yes, you too can be lauded as ‘a leader of excellence’ if you summon the courage and search out the insight required to accomplish it: just don’t take too long making your mind up.

© 2014 Errol Michael Henry/EMH Global Media LTD, All Rights Reserved.

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