No technological tool, and no beautiful design, can solve the problem of human leadership. All the project management systems in the world, all of the AI and "ML" scripts, cannot magically "run" the company for you, or help you deal with customer relations, or your team dynamics, or get public permitting approvals through a neighborhood committee. They cannot make you a better person. What tools can do for you is visualize and bring to the surface, hidden challenges and bottlenecks, historic data, or find ways to communicate more effectively. These are management tools that you must embrace, and constantly learn about, as part of a larger management toolkit. But the human operator behind the system should also strive for constant self-improvement, critical feedback, and personal reflection.
Three tenets of leadership I have observed:
1) Effective Communication - Speak clearly and truthfully. In the business world, poor communications hamper most negotiations and lead to mistakes, cost overruns, and over-leveraging among competing stakeholders. Strive to be articulate about your goals and objectives, and learn to organize your thoughts coherently and effectively.
2) Precise Management - Plan Ahead, and Look Behind, and All the Way Through. Be open-minded to new ideas and different opportunities, but be decisive during execution. Most endeavors require effective planning, and that starts with having a clear long-term vision of your goals that go beyond the vicissitudes of the day-in, day-out. Understand that management is about the effective marshalling of available resources in an allotted time, and using the resources to advance your aims. In creative fields, designers tend to admonish management, because they see it as a constraint on "freedom", and its "boring/tedious". However, this is completely counter-intuitive to the reality of producing good work. On the contrary, design demands an even greater level of management and operational tact, because you are constantly dealing with uncertainty. In an environment of constant uncertainty and abstraction, you must be all the more cognizant of your operational boundaries and guardrails, or you risk burning time and money.
3) Have a Cohesive Vision - Know why you do what you do. An near constant companion to leadership is vision. What is your vision for your endeavor, and what exactly do you want to achieve? Many businesses struggle to articulate or understand their goal, besides profitability and commercial self-interest. However, in a competitive market, the vision of "we are good at XYZ" is not enough to stand out, or to garner a loyal customer base. I think having a compelling vision comes from having a vision for an individual life, and how it can translate thoughtfully and honestly to a professional endeavor. Begin by having a vision for yourself, and be really critical about why you want or have that vision.
Two leadership qualities I admire:
1) Openness/Flexibility - Be open and flexible to adapt to changing crises and climates. Markets change, and you cannot be only mired forever in one way of thinking. Something that worked last year may not stand a chance this year.
2) Courage - Have the courage to ask for what you deserve, and to fight back against poor behavior. Be courageous to make tough decisions for the long-term vision.
At the end of the day, leadership begins with self-knowledge ("All knowledge is self-knowledge."). Out of everything, it appears to me to be one of the rarest and most invaluable commodities of modern society. Because leadership demands a lot from a single individual.
What does leadership mean to you?