FIVE LEADERSHIP TRENDS FOR 2012: Leading by example

The following is the second in a four-part series on leadership trends for 2012.  We hope that you will find the articles enlightening and that you will be able to apply these strategies to make your business more ‘sticky’ to your employees!

Leadership by example

Free State University vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen, espouses spiritual and emotional qualities as key to exemplary leadership:

‘I have learned that leadership is not only technical and muscular; it is also spiritual and emotional. The textbooks are wrong. Strong leaders are in touch with their own emotions and the emotions of their followers. They know that the “bottom line” can only be achieved by relating to the spiritual and emotional lives of people.’

Empathy is an invaluable leadership trait in motivating and inspiring people. This sensitive and emotional quality never gained recognition in a hard masculine business environment but the advent of female leaders has changed that.

The empathetic leader automatically sets an example through listening, understanding, courageously doing the right thing (as Jansen says) and, perhaps most importantly, is seen not taking sides.

Jansen sums it up. ‘In a crisis, exemplary leadership matters. Through all my years as a school teacher and as a university teacher, I know only one thing for sure, and that is that young people do not listen to us. They observe us, and imitate us. Your staff will not follow you wholeheartedly unless your life as a leader is worth following in the first place. When the chips are down, followers look to leaders – not for all the answers, but for pillars of assurance, for certainty of direction. Your example is crucial.’

What do you think about Jansen’s statement that employees won’t follow you unless you lead a life worth following? Do you feel that leaders personal lives are unnecessarily scruitinised in a work setting? Share you thoughts in the comment box below.