Exemplary leaders should empower and encourage their employees as they often make significant contributions to the running of the company. Let's see what elements constitute exemplary leadership and how leaders can achieve the optimum result.

By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos

A research, conducted by HR firm Gartner, of more than 6,500 employees and over 100 CHROs worldwide found that "the best organisations rely on their workforce - not just executives - to lead change." This means that leaders should properly direct their employees, understand their needs, maneuver and satisfy them without losing control. 

Exemplary behavior and leadership skills

Experts have traditionally attributed the function of leadership to behaviors such as dealing with difficult conversations, building trust, feeding subordinates with ideas, guiding, inspiring, influencing and changing the behavior of others. Aspiring leaders are challenged to perfect each behavior separately. This can prove to be quite difficult, as each behavior comes with its own context, with the specifics and adversities that may arise. It becomes even more difficult if we think that a meeting with our team can or should require us to do all of the above, because ultimately these cannot be separated.

With this in mind, could we improve the art of leadership in a way that facilitates its establishment? Over the past 10 years, the Mentora Institute research team has collected and analysed more than 1,000 exemplary leadership behaviors—conversations, meetings, conflicts, and negotiations that people have had with colleagues, partners, rivals, and even friends and family. They noticed many differences in the situations these individuals encountered and how they responded. 

Leaders' tactics to achieve the desired goals

The above research in deeper analysis discovered three common themes:

Common intention in difficult situations; how can I bring out the best in myself and the best in others in the pursuit of our common purpose?

Activation of key concepts for better staff response:

• Purpose: Commitment to the pursuit of a noble cause. 
• Wisdom: Receptivity to the truth - with all its nuances - in every situation.
• Development: The constant effort to get the most out of everyone.
• Love: Cultivating warmth, understanding and connection.
• Self-realisation: Supporting the effort of each person to realise his/her dream.

Exemplary Leadership 

Management methods aiming at the desired result:

* Disarmament: Starting the conversation by confirming some of what our interlocutors have told us. 
* Assessment: Creating a good atmosphere in the discussion, without tensions and frictions.
* Fusion of opposites: stating clearly our own point of view, while accepting some of the comments of our interlocutors.
* Appeal to values: appealing to the values ​​of our colleagues, trying to convince them that these will lead to better results. 

* Projecting the value of collaboration: inviting our interlocutors to help us with the issues we have to resolve. 

Every action begins as an internal process. We direct our intentions, emotions and thoughts to activate the right energy first within ourselves and then externalise it. So, first we have decided what to say, how to say it, as well as what tone and words to use. If we feel something inside and keep it to ourselves by saying something different, we won't be authentic and the others will understand that. A leadership function that focuses solely on training people to say the right thing every time is incomplete. Ultimately, actions are what constitute behaviors. We may have countless ideas as to how to lead our team, but we must first have given serious thought to which of them can work in any context that may arise. In other words, we should first be through a proper internal process. This approach has a requirement: the need to be humble, to recognise that regardless of our position in the company, the next step in our progress may lie in practicing some simple actions that we haven’t used until now.

What are the advantages of exemplary leadership?

Analysis: The science of learning says that in order to master a subject, we must first break it down into simple elements, understand them, practice them and then proceed in combining them. So when we take on a big project, we should first break it down into individual parts, examine them and then move on. We don't get straight from A to Z, the things in between are what will make our goal possible. 

Authenticity: In this way, we choose the action we think is right, first harmonising what we will say and do with what we think and feel. We express what we have at the core of our thinking and feeling, because only in this way will we be authentic and gain the trust of others.

Flexibility: As we choose one action after another, our course of action may change as circumstances unfold—such as when we encounter resistance or notice that the person we are dealing with is backing away. Small steps at a time add up to a giant leap in the variety of our behavior.