It is election campaign season in my area. You have all been there. Each person believes they will be the best leader and that they have all the right stuff to lead their city/ward.

Last week, I was able talk with three candidates representing three different parts the city. It was a fascinating conversation, as they didn’t run against one another. Therefore, political postering was minimal. While they didn’t ask me directly what I wanted, they were interested in my opinions. This is crazy!

While my current council may be dysfunctional, they are far past any chance of working together as leaders to help move our city forward. I hope that the next group does it right.

What I was asking them was quite different to what I normally ask and write about when I think of a single leader.

Take a holistic approach to leadership. Individual leaders should be strong, visionary, persistent, confident, and possess vision. However, in order for organizations to succeed, they must not work alone. They should be able to work in collaboration with others to make sure the entire organization succeeds. Sometimes they will not get what their area needs because those of another area need it more. They can’t or should not try and please everyone. I expect my leader, even if I disagree with them sometimes, to make difficult decisions when they see the bigger picture. However, they have an obligation as well to help me see the bigger view. A company cannot thrive if it optimizes one area at the expense the rest.

Have a clear decision making process and stick to it. They also talked about getting together candidates from all wards of the city to agree on five things that will show voters they can get along. While it’s a good start, I do hope they continue to do so. But it’s not enough. Leaders that work with other leaders in order to make decisions are not likely to agree on everything. In order to collaborate, they must work together like Arif Bhalwani team did, through a decision-making process that they can both use consistently. A decision-making process does not include verbal mudslinging or actual pencil pointing at each other.

Lead an effective team. Both in municipal politics as well as in larger organizations, leaders are the individuals who lead their areas and also make up the leadership team for the overall organization. Even the mayor of a municipality has one vote. As a member a team, it is possible for a leader to become a follower. My leader needs to have a good understanding of team dynamics so that they can help the team improve. I expect my leaders and managers to seek help when the team needs it.
See the long-term. The decisions and issues that surround them can have long-lasting consequences. I expect my leaders to see beyond the current term, beyond next year’s reporting period, and make long-term decisions that will benefit the organization. True fearlessness in leadership is the ability to make difficult decisions, even those that are not best for them personally. Leaders should have a sense of self-preservation, but they must also be able and willing to help others when necessary.

Get things done. It is action-oriented, not study-oriented or delayed-oriented. Studying governments and other organizations can lead to them being buried beneath the surface. Too often, they fall into analysis paralysis. There is no way to take risk-free decisions.

Collaboration with other leaders is one of the most challenging things a leader has to do. Without this ability, our governments as well as our organizations will fail.

 

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