Challenging the status quo, adapting quickly, staying composed, taking risks, and inspiring others

The Essential Traits of a Leader on the Line

The renowned leadership experts Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky define real leadership as challenging the status quo and surfacing hidden conflict. This requires putting yourself in danger and risking valuable relationships.

Leaders with strong moral compass embrace these risks and drive change without losing sight of their values. This way, they build trust and credibility, fostering sustainable relationships.

The ability to adapt and evolve

As leaders on the line, you need to be able to adapt and evolve quickly. That means being open to change and constantly learning from your mistakes. It also means focusing on the big picture and knowing how to make changes to your organization.

Often, when you exercise leadership, it is to ask people to sacrifice something that is dear to them. And it’s not always easy for them to accept that.

Those who are on the leading edge of organizational change have learned how to create decentralized, fluid structures that allow them to detect and respond to environmental shifts in real time. They are quick to experiment with new models and strategies, and they learn to unlock their greatest asset: the people. They have honed their ability to listen to those who disagree with them, understand that organizational change is difficult for everyone involved, and then mobilize change through the organization. By doing so, they help employees and managers find ways to overcome their resistance to change.

The ability to stay composed

A leader’s ability to remain calm and collected in the face of adversity is one of the most important traits they can possess. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of a situation, but if a leader isn’t careful, they can let their emotions take over and make poor decisions.

A great leader is able to keep their cool and make decisions that will benefit the team in the long run. They understand that their behavior can send a message to the rest of the team, and they want to make sure they are showcasing confidence in difficult work situations. Whether it’s a police chief giving a press conference after a major crime in the community, the CEO of a company as stock prices plummet or the captain of a sports team addressing their fans after a loss, leadership composure is a key component to staying on top of tough work situations.

The ability to take the heat

Leading isn’t easy, and it doesn’t always pay off. It requires putting yourself on the line, disturbing the status quo and surfacing hidden conflict. It can also be dangerous, and those who take the risks often get burned.

In their new book Leadership on the Line, two faculty members at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government pool their ideas to explore the hard work of leading others. In this excerpt from the book, they talk about four common dangers leaders face and how to overcome them. Those dangers are marginalization, diversion, attack and seduction. The authors also offer some tools or attitudes that can help.

The ability to inspire

One of the most important traits a leader on the line must have is the ability to inspire their team. The best way to do this is by finding out what drives you to work each day, and then communicating that purpose to your team. This will help to foster loyalty and trust, and it will also encourage your team members to push beyond their self-imposed limitations.

Authenticity is another key aspect of inspiring a team. Inspiring leaders can put themselves in the shoes of their teammates and understand what it takes for each person to perform at their peak. This helps them to develop a team that can harness individual strengths into a collective effort and tackle any challenge that comes their way.

Ultimately, the most inspiring leaders are those who can make people believe that they genuinely care about them. This is the most effective way to motivate a team, and it will ensure that they work harder to reach their goals.

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