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Managing to Be a Leader
by Andrew E. Schwartz

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What combination of personality traits, professional training, and mentoring makes the “best leader?” There is a dearth of information on this topic in both management and social science literature, and no one has formulated a recipe for concocting all that leadership implies: authority, administrative skill, effectiveness, initiative, foresight, energy, influence, and more. The complexity and mystery of leadership do not permit a simplistic approach.

The apt expression “tool box approach” has been used to describe an effective leader’s skill in choosing the right style at the right time in a given situation. To be a successful leader, a manager must appropriately combine three major abilities -technical, human, and conceptual, or the ability to work with methods, process, procedures and techniques, the ability to work effectively with people and the ability to view the organization as a whole, deal with abstractions, develop ideas, and see cause and effect. The following points are distilled from contact with effective managers who have learned to balance these three abilities.

Be Situationally Relevant: Since many mangers spend an overwhelming amount of time in personal negotiation and conflict resolution, they must be appropriately trained in the art of human intervention. They must have the ability to grasp the concept of the situation, make on-target decisions, and act decisively to minimize complications and defuse potentially difficult situations.

Set Clear and Reasonable Objectives For Themselves and Others: Plan… Plan… Plan… Managers need to do their homework. Effective managers know that setting objectives, outlining the steps required to achieve them, and delegating tasks appropriately to each person are all necessary components of bringing a project to fruition. The development of a system that maintains these objectives (like a wall calendar) is a good sign of an effective leader and time manager. Any major projects must be time-lined backwards from completion date to incipience to verify how long they will take, and to create intermediate goals to keep the employees and management motivated.

Listen, Write, And Articulate Effectively: Leadership positions require effective communication skills. Basic confidence in the art of information sharing is absolutely necessary for effective leadership. Although mastering all of these skills is ideal, it is not always necessary. Creative leaders can develop teams to support them in areas of weakness. One of the strengths of a leader is the capacity to recognize those communication areas in which he or she is weakest and then to supplement them. If for example, the area is listening, a leader might request a written summary for follow-up. If the area is writing, they could delegate the writing up of their ideas. No effective leader, however, can delegate the ability to articulate. Verbal communication must be an effective part of a leader’s repertoire.


Andrew E. Schwartz, CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates of Boston, MA a comprehensive management training and professional development organization offering over 40 skills specific programs and practical solutions to today's business challenges.

Copyright, AE Schwartz & Associates. All rights reserved.
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