Resource Development Associates

Modeling Effective Leadership

By Patricia Marrone Bennett

At RDA, we know that effective leaders help unify their teams around a shared vision, which can increase staff engagement in and excitement for their work. We also know that leadership can be shared across all levels as an organization strives to fulfill its mission.

One of the primary functions of a leader is to model the way. This means that leaders behave in all ways that they expect others to behave. Leaders walk their talk and they lead by example. There should be no contradictions between what a leader says and what they do, because credibility is the foundation of leadership.

We also know that leaders must be role models and always demonstrate a commitment to those that surround them. They demonstrate loyalty and be respectful if they expect people to remain loyal to them and to always be honest. Being respectful of even those who you disagree with is a behavior that signals how others in an organization are expected to constructively approach conflict.

Finally, we have learned that how leaders communicate is an essential ingredient to their success. A good leader practices active listening and limits their own words. A leader must frequently ask questions and rarely make declarations. Leaders use descriptive language rather than evaluative language, especially in problem solving.

These traits form the basis of our strengths-based leadership work with our clients. Often, we have found that organizations already have the leadership skills needed to accomplish their goals. To build these skills within an organization, RDA partners with our clients to provide training, coaching, and other services to support the identification and development of leaders at all levels.

Of course, one other trait of a leader is admitting that you don’t know everything. So with that in mind, we are always working to learn more about what makes a great leader. What are your thoughts?

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