Leadership seems to be an inexhaustible topic. It is written thousands of new books on the subject every year. Self-proclaimed experts in the field who wants you to believe they have found the key to successful leadership are constantly finding new angles on the subject in their quest to be unique and interesting to potential customers. I’m very interested in leadership and saw early in my career in logistics what potential there is in good leadership especially in warehouses and distribution centers. It can be crucial to a company’s continued development and can be the difference between success and failure. I have read countless books about leadership, especially when I was young and insecure of my leadership and tried to find a simple and easy shortcut to good leadership. Unfortunately, I feel that many books on the subject deceive the reader that there are easy ways to become a good leader. Very few books refer to any research. Basically no books are evidence-based, but referrers to the author’s own experiences or theories. One thing is certain there is no quick shortcuts to a successful leadership.
In my opinion there is only one way to become a good leader. To begin with, you have to know yourself, self-awareness is extremely important. If you don´t have that, you will never understand why people responds like they do when you interacting. It is never too late to start. If you are a leader and want to learn about yourself, I can recommend a great personality test called IDI (Interpersonal Dynamics Inventory). Apart from you will six people in your immediate environment answer questions about you. How you for example interact and react in different situations. It is very instructive to compare your self-image with six colleagues and/or subordinates picture of your personality. If your opinion differs a lot from the others it can be pretty difficult to accept the result. But it is very useful for your future development. It is when you start to know yourself and accept who you are you can start to coach and support people and understand their behaviors in different situations. Another thing you can tell from a IDI test is your adaptability. That means how “flexible” you are in your personality depending in what kind of group you are or what kind of leader a staff needs at the moment. A military leader who giving clear orders with no room for questions is necessary in extreme situations where peoples lives are in danger or some kind of crisis in a company but not in a project when you want everybody to contribute with their thoughts and ideas.
Of all the books I’ve read about leadership I have one big favorite that I still use in my work, where I find inspiration for my leadership. The name of the book is “Radical collaboration” the book is written by Ronald J. Luyet,and James W. Tamm. It was published for the first time in 2004. This book refers to research and is evidence based. What I like about this book is the humble approach the authors advocate. You can be a strong and goal focused leader but still be responsive to your staff and change your approach depending on situation and what kind of support the staff needs at the moment. The book also focuses a lot on communication. Communication is essential for a good leadership. You need to be able to give feedback both positive and constructive. You have to be strong enough to have a discussion and listen to arguments and give respectful answers even if it is something the staff don´t like.
Do not fall for all the trendy names of “different” and “new” types of leadership, for example “Lean leadership”, “Agile leadership” and Neuro leadership. You can call it what you want. If you want to become a great leader you need to have self-awareness, be responsive and have great communicative skills you also need to have a genuine interest in the subject. You can have how much theoretical knowledge you want but if don’t have the genuine interest in being a good leader and like to interact with people you will never be a leader that people respect and listen to.
There is an obvious reason why so many management books are published every year. We want easy and quick shortcuts to a successful leadership. Because it takes lot of energy and strength to develop yourself and your leadership. Not everyone is prepared to do that and believes instead in new trendy leadership books that make you a “great leader” in five quick and easy steps.