It certainly isn’t easy being a leader – how do you both inspire and manage? How do you get your team to believe in your product with the same passion and verve that you do? And what exactly is it that makes somebody a good leader? There are, in my opinion, five key ingredients that make up a good leader – often, as with most things, it’s a case of learning from one’s mistakes and using those lessons to constantly improve upon yourself. These, however, are five important elements that I feel every good leader should possess.
Integrity is Integral
Studies consistently show higher productivity output from teams that like, respect and get along with their leader. If you remain true to yourself and act with integrity, not only will you inspire those around you, but you will also inspire good business practice. “Do as I say, not as I do” never got anybody anywhere.
What is your vision?
It is one thing to have goals, but how are you going to narrow them down to a more tangible vision? As speaker and lifestyle coach Barbara Sher says, “doing is a quantum leap from imagining” and there is the danger of getting bogged down doing the wrong thing or getting discouraged, with no idea of how to get any closer to where you want to be. By having a clear vision of where you see yourself, whether it be five, ten, even forty years down the road, you can ensure that you stay on target and remain motivated.
Chart your Road Map
You’ve got your vision, now you need to figure out the practicalities of how to get there – good leadership means the ability to engineer execution (not just concept) and guide your team in order to realise that vision. Take the time to write down what you want, and then work your way backwards: What sort of time frame are you looking at? What stepping stones will get you there? What have you learnt from past experience that you can apply? What can you do, right now, in order to make sure you are going in the right direction? Then start driving.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
I cannot stress how important clear communication and good communication channels are – a good leader has the ability not just to explain but also to listen. By having an open dialogue with your team you can ensure that everybody is on the same page and that common goals are consistently met. It is through feedback that you can stay true to your vision and stick to your road map, reassessing and using your experiences to improve where needed.
Encourage and Enable
A good leader has the ability to identify people’s strengths and fit the right people into the right roles. You know the saying, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”? It’s true – find the right people for the right job, identify unique strengths and encourage them to build their confidence and skill sets in order to maximise their potential. Another important element is to not micro manage – if you have a healthy management system in place, your employees won’t feel threatened or distrusted, but rather, will feel inspired and empowered.
Originally featured in Precious Success, January 2013.