The five pillars of leadership

The strategic leadership of your enterprise can be divided into five main areas. Get these right, says Martin Baker, MD of leadership and management online learning specialist LMMatters, and you’re on the path to success.

1. Leading Your People
Alongside their day-to-day people management tasks, leaders need to understand their own leadership style and how that should flex to suit circumstances.
Leaders need to develop their vision for your business and learn how to take people with them, so that everyone is working towards the same shared goals.
Leaders also need to build successful teams around them and throughout the business, whilst developing the potential of future leaders.
Personally, leaders must develop the quality of integrity and must learn to ‘walk the talk’, if their leadership efforts are to be fruitful.

2. Leading Change
Without change, even the best organisation may only stand still in the face of intense competition.  Leaders need to identify the barriers to change and develop strategies to overcome these. They should establish clear goals and milestones and enlist the support of the organisation’s people, through clear communications.
Leaders also need to provide a clear communication channel for updates on the change process and your progress, and maintain an open and honest approach to handling questions and giving and receiving feedback.

3. Leading Innovation
Enterprise leaders need to create the conditions in which innovation is to thrive in order for your business to stay ahead of the competition, to offer your customers the most successful products or services that both meet and exceed their expectations.
Leaders therefore need to develop a culture that encourages creativity and allows everyone to contribute ideas in a constructive environment, where it’s OK for people to disagree and think outside of the box.
Leaders should personally champion and reward good ideas and ensure that performance management systems underpin innovative activity.
Finally, leaders should adopt a prudent view of risk and recognise that without an element of risk-taking, much innovation will never have a chance to be translated into business success.

4. Leading for Growth
Day-to-day management tasks won’t help grow your business.  To do this, regardless of the size of your enterprise, leaders have to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, which should spread through the business.
Leaders need to understand different growth strategies and identity the most appropriate for your business and current circumstances.
Leaders need to become proficient at identifying and exploiting opportunities as they arise, as well as proactively looking out for them.
Finally, it’s only when leaders are totally aligned to the current and future needs of your customers that you’ll achieve long term sustainable growth, so they need to learn to strategically deepen customer relationships.

5. Leading Corporate Social Responsibility
In this increasingly important area of business, leaders need to understand the business context of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Then they need to make the business case for CSR and communicate this successfully to their staff and customers.
They will need to identify the best approach to CSR for your business, and implement and measure its impact.
Finally, leaders have to demonstrate all the personal qualities that give them the credibility to lead your enterprise’s CSR strategy.

 Martin Baker is the Managing Director of leadership and management eLearning specialist LMMatters, providing world class resources to develop leadership and management excellence. For more information, go to



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