AMMA’s Enhancing Leadership program involves honest self-reflection and drawing on personal leadership experiences. In this column, training and development consultant Geoff Timmerman explores differing views on leadership and followship, while helping you identify those traits that allow you to achieve extraordinary results through your people.

SOME months ago I penned an article for the AMMA Bulletin on the art of leadership, explaining that leadership is largely about followship. It also revealed the importance of the ‘care factor’ in effective leaders.

In a lot of reading recently undertaken to further explore the definition and traits of true leadership, I came across a piece that described or defined leadership fundamentally as the results achieved by an individual. The author, known only as ‘George’, specifically claimed good leaders have the ability to achieve extraordinary results – not ‘day to day’ results as most of us regularly attain – but extraordinary results. He also mentioned that personal traits or characteristics are used by many leadership experts to describe effective leaders. George however, argued that this is a somewhat useless, irrelevant exercise: even if a person has ‘charisma’ or is ‘trustworthy’ – often identified as effective leadership traits – what does this actually achieve?

At first I thought George may have a valid point, but with closer examination his line of reasoning seemed skewed. Any role has, or should have, a results-focused approach – something that is often found adrift in the political, meeting-orientated, administrative corporate world we operate in. Interestingly, Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE effectively described one philosophy to this results-focused approach, what Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson (former executives of American based retail Best Buy) have called ROWE (‘Results Only Work Environment’). The name speaks for itself and has had some impressive outcomes across corporate America over the past few years.

Consider that it is not just a leader who can achieve extraordinary results. Think of effective managers who can achieve great results in the workplace. I don’t imply for one moment that effective leaders don’t achieve extraordinary results – but they do so through their people – and hence the need for followship.

George argued that great leaders have strong persistence to achieve – they don’t give in until the job is done. I agree with this trait that usually constitutes an effective leader. One could list the refusal to be bound by limitations, and the persistent pursuit of possibilities rather than impossibilities as a hallmark of great leaders. However one can be admirably (and sometimes annoyingly) persistent without being an effective leader. Persistence can also be to one’s detriment (i.e. flogging a dead horse). Reflecting on my career I chuckle at the number of dead horses I’ve witnessed being flogged and flogged (metaphorically speaking of course).

Tip to management: when something is obviously not working, change or abort it. Of course, the fear of failure and the retribution it brings, and sometimes simply pride, are often the big reasons the ‘flogging a dead horse syndrome’ continues to exist.

Drawing you back to the traits of an effective leader – here’s a simple little exercise to consider, and it’s one of the challenges completed in AMMA’s Enhancing Leadership program. It involves some honest self reflection (which is not easy for many). Firstly, think of a leader you have admired in your life (she or he may be a current or past leader associated with you through work or play). List the traits (single words or short descriptions) that describe or typify your identified leader. Then ask yourself, which of these traits do I lack? Which of the traits would I like to develop to allow myself to become a better manager, and a better leader? Revealing these leadership traits in this exercise is a great starting point to boosting your management ability – and also you as a person.

To learn more about AMMA’s Enhancing Leadership program, contact AMMA Training & Development on 1800 891 662 or email [email protected].