5 August 2014

The Importance of Leadership

Imagine it’s your first team meeting and you know well that you have to lead the team for convincing results. English is not your first language, you don’t know the demographics and psychological behaviors and you don’t even know how they react to the conversation and words at times. This is predominantly what every international student experiences while studying at the University of Sydney.

The best real life industrial management example for executing leadership in regards to the same situation is Nissan’s current CEO, Carlos Ghosn. He pulled out a remarkable turnaround which was not accomplished by adhering to conventional wisdom.

Leadership Quality
One proven way to develop effective leadership is to focus on the behaviors you expect a leader to display. Spell out these activities personally with your team. In conversations, discuss what a leader in your organisation should do - for example, act as a role model or motivate others - and describe each behavior with enough specificity to inform selection, training and evaluation. Be precise, real and action-oriented. By describing these qualities as behaviors (rather than as character traits) you’ll underscore two messages: It isn’t worth much to have an attribute that you don’t display; and if you fall short of what the best leaders do, you can still close that gap. Emphasising behavior over traits also opens the door to style differences, as long as leaders maintain the standards you’ve set.

Leadership Approach
When you manage a team of people, adapt your leadership style to meet each person’s needs. In general, there are four types of approaches: directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. Depending on the level of your team’s competence and commitment, choose which will work best. When your direct report is learning new skills, be directive. Define tasks clearly and check progress to make sure the team is not faltering. Use out of the box experiments while learning new skills, but make sure there is freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Be supportive, encouraging highly competent employees who lack confidence. With employees who are both highly motivated and experienced, delegate tasks. In all cases, your responsibility is to find the balance between hand-holding and empowering. It’s our assignment to be able to energise others and influence them so that they all want to be around us.

One Strong  Recommendation
Group assignments are provided to work in a corporate environment at the University of Sydney. Students are prone to experience the politics, stress and develop an etiquette of learning useful managerial experiences. As a take home reward, ensure that you don’t have any personal animosities. University and your learning experiences will be what you make of it.

Shivaramakrishnan Ramamoorthy
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School
Master of Management, Master of International Management (CEMS) and Master of Commerce (Marketing)

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