Becoming a good leader can be learned. How? What characteristics have to be acquired? We talk about it with Yvon Chouinard and Nicole Simard, the authors of the book Votre Impact: Agir en leader [Your Impact: Acting as a Leader], recently published by Logiques.
During their careers, Yvon Chouinard and Nicole Simard have supported and trained many leaders. While the former is a mentoring consultant and executive coach, the latter is a communications practitioner, specializing in the development of training programs for managers.
Have they concocted, over time, a magic recipe for leadership? “There is nothing magic about becoming a leader,” says Yvon Chouinard. “Like everything in life, it is all about practice.” Here are five characteristics that they say every good leader should develop.
According to Yvon Chouinard and Nicole Simard, a good leader knows especially how to be present, both physically and emotionally. “He can, for example, take a few minutes a day to walk around his organization and talk to his employees,” notes Yvon Chouinard. But be careful! His interest in them must be real.” Nicole Simard agrees: “He must listen to his employees intentionally, that is, by seeking to understand them rather than giving them a premature response.” By offering this quality listening, a manager will forge authentic bonds with his employees and increase his capital of sympathy.
A present leader will be able to observe and adapt to his environment. Like any politician visiting another country, he will make sure to take on behaviours that are likely to make a good impression and facilitate communication. These behaviours can range from dress, body language to presentations. “So if he sees some fatigue in his audience, he will avoid making a long presentation,” notes Nicole Simard.
“A good leader has a tree of values on which he bases his words and behaviours,” continues the specialist. “By taking care to embody his values, he will gain credibility.” Indeed, how can a manager have the respect and trust of his employees if he doesn’t do what he says? Does he want to be generous? Perfect! In this case, he will have to be accessible.
Here, Nicole Simard persists and indicates, “A good leader communicates with a clear and simple message, filled with concrete examples. In fact, every time he speaks, he knows what he means and how he wants to say it. He leaves institutional jargon and language aside, breathes soul into his words and uses unifying words.” The expert also recalls the importance of voice. Is it monotonous or dynamic? Loud or inaudible?
According to Yvon Chouinard, a good leader is aware of the impact he has on others. For example, a manager knows that he will disturb a large part of his staff if he is concerned. “By being aware of what he is projecting, he will be able to adjust his attitude accordingly. This is called the theory of effect: a small gesture can have a big impact.”
So becoming a good leader isn’t rocket science. You just need to be curious about others, aware of yourself, and most importantly, open to learning and improving.
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