The 7 Essential Tasks of Leadership

(Originally posted winter 2012)

...whether you're a sole-trader or the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation!

In my previous blog I talked about the importance of leadership development.
If we've grasped the importance of being a good leader, the next most important question is:

"To be a better leader, what do I need to do?"

As with all areas of leadership, there are many hotly contested answers.

Theorists often look at examples of great leadership, but only great leadership, for their research.

Whilst this can be of value, it can also give us restricted and distracting answer.
To really understand leadership, we need to look at leadership in all its forms. This include the simpler, unsung acts of leadership, that shape our daily lives, ie:

  • Organising and hosting a dinner party
  • A mother co-ordinating the school run
  • Persuading a friend to stop smoking
  • Preventing an accident
  • Prioritising and managing the days activities
  • Getting a group together to solve an urgent issue

    For me, valuable lessons can be learnt from these more common, everyday moments of leadership. These moments should also be considered alongside the great examples, ie:

    • Winston Churchill and his war time efforts
    • Steve Jobs focusing Apple on their 5 year plan

      When you look at leadership in al its forms, from the momentary to the great, all examples contain a common theme; a common theme that can be broken down into a number of tasks.

      I describe these as The 7 Essential Tasks of Leadership.
      Over time, I’ll be talking more about the 7 tasks. But for now, here they are in brief:
      1. Have a goal and plan. Know what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and a sense of how you're going to approach it.
      2. Work the Plan. Working a plan is often about doing repeated tasks consistently. This requires developing good habits. What we do consistently becomes our culture. So in corporate speak, this stage is all about developing and managing a winning culture.
      3. Scan for meaningful change. Here we need to measuring and monitoring our progress. We also need to looking for significant changes in our world that could aid or upset our plans.
      4. Solve problems. From our scanning activities we may find an opportunity to embrace or a challenge to solve. Either way, we now enter the phase of problem solving or solution finding.
      5. Implementing solutions. Having come up with our best ideas, we now need to try them out by prototyping, testing, improving or starting again until we have a revised approach that works. We may also need to make our new approach stick in the long-term, ie embark on some form of culture change.
      6. Nurture relationships. Throughout the process, we'll need to identify and develop relationships that aid us towards our goals. We'll also need to reduce and diminish those that are distracting or negative.
      7. Communicate and Influence. Perhaps hardest of all is the task of influencing others appropriately and effectively; appropriately so that they are motivated and on our side, not negative or against us, effectively so that there is clarity between us.

      The more conscious we are of these tasks - and the more skill we have in executing them with precision - the better our leadership attempts will be.

      So if you’ve been asking yourself the question:
      "What do I need to do to be a better leader?"
      Now you know.

      If you'd like to develop your own skill in these areas, subscribe to this blog or make contact with Martin at www.martin-riley.co.uk

      The 7 Essential Tasks of Leadership are the intellectual property of Martin Riley. All rights reserved. ⓒ 2006

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