Leveraging Authentic Resonant Leadership

Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.” 21st Century leadership, more than ever before, is entrenched in emotional intelligence and the ability to recognise the fundamental importance of human capital. The need for leaders who recognise and respect the people element of organisations and governments is evident and to heed to this need is vital. 

It must be acknowledged that when speaking of leadership theories; we are speaking of contradictions. There are the schools who promote the concept of born leaders and then there are those who promote leaders as being made and nurtured. There is the resonant potential of leadership responsibilities and there is the dissonant reality of greed and status. There is intrinsic leadership irrespective of a title and there is entitlement through position. To summarise effective leadership into one winning formula would be naïve, however, it is important to recognise that there are attributes, characteristics and skills that are beneficial to have or acquire for a leader to become a resonant leader.

Gail Cameron writes in her latest book, Authentic African Leadership, that “Resonant leaders are secure leaders who provide a sense of protection, give a sense of comfort and offer a source of energy and inspiration to explore, take risks, and bring about innovation and effective solutions.” 

You may find yourself asking, “What is effective, resonant leadership?” 

Effective leadership, resonant leadership, is determined by the followers. And that is the point. There is no one leadership style that will be effective in all situations. The effective leaders are those who can recognise, understand and act upon what their followers require. It is indicative of social awareness, empathy and trust. Empathy should not be viewed as a ‘soft skill’. With a resonant leader as the keeper of the human climate and tone-setter of the working environment, teams can stretch, innovate, deliver and succeed. As Terrence Taylor said, “Leadership ignites the spark that turns the potential of people, organisations and societies into performance.” 

In several studies, it has become apparent that in today’s working culture IQ has become the entrance level requirement. It is EQ (Emotional Intelligence) that sets the leaders apart. Research by the University of California, Los Angeles indicates that only 7% of leadership success is attributable to intellect; 93% of success comes from presence, honesty, authenticity, trust and integrity (Cooper and Sawaf, 1996). The wonderful news is that unlike IQ, EQ is not static and can be developed. To enhance your EQ relates to enhancing your innate ability to interact with others.

With a greater understanding of self and the willingness and ability to recognise the individuals around and under them, a leader can set aside the need to impress others or to enhance their status. Instead, the leader can focus on inspiring the team and to steer the team to a greater collective purpose.

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