My view on effective leadership and success

My colleague has just started her MBA studies. One of her first assignment was to ask some heavy question from co-workers like: What does it take to be an effective leader?

Well, here is my anwer.

An effective leader has to be effective at leading him/her self. First and foremost. If a leader is not able to manage himself/herself how do you expect him/her to manage others? If this criteria has been fulfilled then it is time to move further. I have to stop here for a second, because this still means nothing. Over the years we have seen how the big consulting companies promote to management an expert who is very knowledgeable at his own field, but has no clue about management skills with no clue as to how to lead others. Meanwhile some persons who are not 100% about understanding some stupid tax laws, but who posess excellent organizational skills, are blocked from the chance to advance in the food chain.  Look at my CV, and you will understand why I was with E&Y for only two years.

The 21st century leader is far more than a decision maker. The leader needs to be a positive example for the present but must also show that he has a vision for the future as well,  He has to show the path for his colleagues. During our times, leaders with vision are far more effective than those who lack foresight.  Effective leaders must not follow the herd and take up the sort of business hysteria and bad decisions taken as a result of the stuff we find in the media, disguised as news and is designed for the uneducated masses.  A great leader is constantly seeking options and solutions that create opportunities. The effective leader communicates swift, honest and accurate opinions, to all the stakeholders.

The other question my colleague asked was the following:

– What are the reasons that some leaders are more successful than others?

Pure luck! And a little bit of determination.

The famous Hungarian born economist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, called flow that state of being where you are in a situation and you just glide along.  Whether you are at work or play, not counting the hours, just being into your groove makes you feel like you are flying. Reaching the state of „flow” is also a part of being more successful than others. When you feel more comfortable in a situation, you do better; when you believe in whatever you do, you do better.

Luck is also a factor, some people have none: Born in West Africa, you fight over  malaria, local warlords, drugs and HIV AIDS.  The struggle of trying to, live with less than under $1 (U.S.) per day makes you less competitive for the job of being the CEO of Coca Cola. If you are lucky to be born in an OECD country, it’s your decision to become a leader.  You will still need some luck in finding the right place with the right people that offers the best opportunities.where to go, who to work with and luck to get that opportunity what somewhere lies in between the line of being successful and not. Luck is also what I call keep many stick on fire: more chance that one of them will catch on fire.

Determination and motivation are key elements of this. If you are determined to move your goals further, and you have the right set of skills, and the right set of colleagues and decent financials you will become a success, but you must be able to put it all together and make that success happen..

Success is a relative status. It could come quickly and go just as quickly. Success should be part of your life; if you are not successful at home, whatever you get during working hours will not mean anything on Christmas Eve.

Determination, motivation and reaching the „flow” could make you more successful than others, but you still need a bit of luck to bring it all together!