Despite all the research about the nature of leaders, practitioners acknowledge that many aspects of leadership remain a mystery.
In an article on Forbes.com by Joseph Folkman, he addresses one of the key mysteries that seems to consistently defy traditional analysis.
Often, leaders are identified as having a remarkable quality that sets them apart from others. It causes others to be attracted to them and enables them to achieve extraordinary outcomes. That quality has most frequently been labelled ‘charisma’, a term that comes from the Greek khárisma meaning ‘favour freely given’ or ‘gift of grace’. In ancient times, people believed this quality was a divine gift bestowed upon some and not on others. Folkman, however, argues that there are different approaches to inspiring leadership that goes beyond having ‘charisma’ and that the ability to inspire and motivate others is a behavioural skill that can be developed.
So how do you as a leader become more inspiring and motivational? Does it have something to do with ‘charisma’? I can think of many leaders who are very inspirational but not necessarily inspiring. For example, Warren Buffett and Oprah Winfrey – both are inspiring and motivational, but in entirely different ways.
Folkman and his colleagues did some research on 1 000 most inspiring leaders they had access to and clustered them together to find out what ‘approach’ they took to inspire those around them. They found that these individuals consistently used six approaches:
Vision: Providing a clear picture of the future; Relationships: Creative positive one-on-one relationships with a team and connecting emotionally with people; Numbers: Focused on numbers and complete things on time. Being accountable for performance; Being principled: Doing the right thing at the right time; Being enthusiastic: Being passionate about the organisation; Expert: Providing a strong technical direction that only comes from deep expertise
When I read this article I realised that all our Top 35-under-35 finalists display many of these qualities. Yes, they may still be young, but they inspire their teams and those around them every day and not just on big occasions. What they do as leaders impacts those around them every day. And what was more noticeable this year than previously – these young leaders are motivated to lead for the good of others and not for personal recognition.
This is part of the reason why SAICA congratulates and recognises the achievements of all our finalists and the contribution they make ‒ not only to their companies but also in the way they are setting an example for other young people.
As young leaders they all inspire the people around them – they’ve chosen their preferred methodology of leadership and they are making it count for the benefit of their communities and for the whole of South Africa.
I salute the Top 35-under-35 finalists for each having a unique personal brand as a CA(SA).