What makes an effective leader?
Written by: Lynne Edwards
What makes an effective leader?
A common misunderstanding is that leadership depends on a person’s title.
However, leaders can emerge at any level within an organisation. If someone can motivate those with whom they work to strive toward a common goal, they are a leader.
Anyone working in a team, large or small, can bring colleagues together and guide them towards achieving goals by shaping their work environment, offering support, challenging the team, and fostering trust.
But being an effective leader takes more than motivating others.
The most successful leaders are credited with having self-awareness: the ability to perceive oneself clearly through inward observation and reflection.
Leadership starts with self-awareness
A leader who exemplifies what it means to be self-aware is Superyacht Captain Alex Whitty.
Winner of ACREW’s 2019 Captain (Master Unlimited) Crew Award and recent guest on LH’s POP (Power of Purpose) podcast, Alex has spent more than 20 years onboard vessels, working his way up from entry-level jobs on merchant navy vessels, before moving to cruise ships and then luxury yachts.
According to Alex, developing his self-awareness and mental fortitude to know when people have (and don’t have) his best interests at heart have been key in his development as a leader. And as his self-awareness has grown, so has his self-confidence.
“When you start out in yachting, it’s easy to feel as though the position of Captain is unachievable,” says Alex. “But as people take you under their wing, exposing you to new tasks and trusting you, you build confidence to manage what can be stressful situations.”
Alex has also benefited from working with mentors and leaders throughout his career.
“I quickly realised that mentorship differs from friendship,” says Alex. “Mentors know when to praise you, but they also know when to give you the ugly truth. They tell you what you shouldn’t be doing as well as what you should be doing.”
For Alex, who responded well to mentorship and has developed excellent management and communication skills both on-the-job and via formal leadership training, empathy is central to his leadership style.
“The leaders who get the most out of their people are the ones who care about their team,” says Alex.
So, how can you learn to become an effective, empathetic leader?
One of the most notable things about great leaders is the continual drive to be curious, which includes being curious about themselves; about how they react to certain situations, and how they engage with others.
Understanding yourself allows you to recognise your own strengths and challenges and allows you to recognise and understand differences in others.
This is important, in terms of personal leadership – or self-leadership – and leading others, especially in the superyacht industry where it’s essential for creating harmony onboard.
By focusing on self-leadership, leaders can align their values and strengths with their purpose and get the best out of themselves and their teams by focusing on what’s important to them.
Of course, self-leadership takes effort; it doesn’t happen overnight, which is where leadership training can help.
Leadership training starts with the desire to learn
When it comes to starting your leadership training journey, it’s necessary to be curious and willing to learn the ‘craft’ of leadership.
Great leaders are driven by curiosity and a desire to stay relevant. They are also passionate about learning. The craft of leadership isn’t just learning about effectively interacting with others, it’s also about working on yourself.
Formal leadership training helps you to be personally effective, so you can lead others in the same way.
Take the next step on your leadership journey
LH offers a complete range of leadership training as part of our 360 Legacy leadership program, central to which is LH Dynamics, designed to help you improve communication, connection, and empathetic leadership.
Whether you are on a journey of personal leadership, developing your skills as an emerging leader or already lead your own team, LH can accommodate your needs and support you on your leadership journey.
Find out more about our leadership training on demand and contact us with any questions.