We have come across numerous articles depicting leadership and what it stands for. I would like to move away from the definition of leadership and focus on the capability element instead. What are the most critical competencies that a leader must have in order to be successful? After working for more than thirty two years in the Oil & Gas industry, I can safely share my observations that the competencies have been evolving from the basic influencing, motivating and decision making into collaboration skills, inspiring others and influencing those not directly under your authority to name but a few. The competencies that remain critical and have not changed are as follows: setting strategic direction and delivering through others.
Any organisation would welcome the presence of a genuine leader one who would demonstrate not only the core values but also individual sincerity towards the organisation, the people and the job at hand. For example, collaboration is getting more essential in the workplace in order to deliver the best outcome. This is where groups of individuals work together beyond boundaries set by organisations to ensure the optimum deliverable is realised. It often requires the leader to influence others outside his or her authority sphere. The more skilful the leader is in this area the more effective he or she becomes. In addition to this, a leader must be able to inspire and motivate others. Inspiring leaders can transform the workforce and propel it to a greater height by igniting the passion within others in order to thrive and deliver the bottom line performances.
More often than not, we tend to hear phrases that a leader needs to be strategic and not transactional. This is often heard as a feedback to existing leaders who somehow find it difficult to delegate with authority to his or her workforce. The higher the level of the leader in the organisation, the more critical this skill becomes. Leaders need to be aware how their strengths can also prevent them from moving forward. This tends to occur when the leader allows the daily routine tasks that he/ she is good at to consume his/her time at the expense of doing more value adding strategic deliberations. We should be reminded by the fact that what gets us here successfully may not necessarily get us future wins. This syndrome is attributed to the fact that we tend to enjoy doing the stuff that we know we can excel in with the outcome that we tend to do more of it. The downside of this is that we then have less focus on doing or acquiring new skills that are also critical to our jobs. The keyword is to ensure we have positive impact in the organisation.
Last but not least, one may ask, what should I do as a leader? I would like to start by sharing an extract from the book “Act like a leader, think like a leader” by Herminia Ibarra who teaches Leadership Transition at INSEAD. Herminia said “to act like leaders, we will have to devote much of our time to the following practices: bridging across diverse people and groups; envisioning new possibilities; engaging people in the change process and embodying the change”. I always remind myself that the only thing that is constant in our life is “change”. Like a caterpillar that transforms into a pupa then eventually emerge as a beautiful butterfly, we should also reflect on our journey thus far and find the opportunity to transform ourselves into better leaders for now and the future.
Hjh Zainab is a HR Professional & Mentor. She was active in the Oil & Gas Industry for the past 30+ years. She has significant business experiences gained in a multi cultural environment in Brunei (BSP, Brunei LNG), Oman, Qatar, and Europe in the areas of HR & Learning and Development. She is passionate about people development and upholds the mantra ‘don’t let others tell you what you can’t do, and show them what you can do.