What keeps leaders awake at night? You’d think it was business performance, the bottom line, the next quarter’s results. However, a study reveals that it’s more likely to be their own performance and in particular their personal weaknesses.
Ogilvy and Mather carried out a study amongst leaders of European companies including American Express, Mattel, Nestle, SAP and Unilever. They found that the things that most keep these executives awake at night were to do with their own personal performance as a leader, not their business performance.
Particularly when new into the job, many leaders were tempted or persuaded to do things in which they did not believe. They learned that this did not work, primarily because the people who were expected to follow could detect their lack of sincerity. The greatest mistake was trying to be something they were not: to claim to know more, do more, be more that they actually were.
Which of us hasn’t fallen into this trap? Perhaps felt that we were not really worthy of the job, despite the external face we put on, and so bolstered ourselves in some way. Who has not felt that some day they will be caught out and their lack of real leadership skill will be exposed?
What are the main inner leadership strengths we need in order to feel secure? Here are 5 qualities for leaders to constantly strive for:
Literally this means an intention to do good. This goes beyond just doing good for the self and includes an inclination to be kind, understanding and caring for all the people.
To able to access our wisdom and bring the deep lessons and insights from our life and experience to our work is an inner strength. When we draw on our broad foundations and long horizons we are giving a great gift to the organization.
Leaders need a powerful courage to say and do what needs to be done, and to spell it out clearly for all to see. However the courage to do this might not be visible to others. The courage may need to be kept to the self with humility and not bragged about to satisfy the ego.
This is ‘uprightness of mind’ or the self-control to hold strictly to what is known to be right. The many competing pressure that leaders face both internally and externally can sometime produce a behaviour that is perceived as wobbling.
This is the self-respect, good faith or ‘proper feeling’ of who we are in our integrity. We walk our talk and can be relied on. This comes from a sense of wholeness within and of dedication to life and honouring ourselves and our relationships with all others.
While these may be simple but not easy, even holding a strong intention to live and lead according to these qualities can create a powerful inner leadership strength.