– By Dilip Barot, Founder, Creative Choice Group
A company with great leadership thrives even in the toughest situations and without it the company suffers. True leadership is demonstrated when employees want to do the right thing in all situations without prodding. In the current economy, leading rather than ‘bossing’ will always yield superior results.
Great leaders display 10 inherent qualities that attract high caliber employees and inspire them to perform in a culture of inspired excellence.
1) Focus on ‘We’ not ‘I’: To be great, you focus on your team more than you do on yourself. When you take credit for the efforts of others, your team will not support you because you are denying them acknowledgement of their efforts.
If your team gets all the blame for failing to reach goals but then you take all the credit for success, nobody will want to be associated with you. To earn your place as a great leader you have to be concerned about how your team is progressing and how you can guide them. Find opportunities to acknowledge their contributions towards the success of the company.
2) Accept Full Responsibility: You need your team to be accountable for results but accountability has to begin with you. Accepting responsibility means taking the heat not only when the company blossoms but also when things may appear to be going downhill. In business, you encounter bright times and dark times, and how you handle both shows how effectively you assume responsibility.
When you make a wrong decision you need to accept that you were wrong, apologize, and find solutions to make it right.
3) Do the Right Thing: It is not easy to always do the right thing in every situation and it takes a great leader to shoulder that burden. He or she will not focus on how they are perceived in the short term, but on doing what will benefit the company in the long term.
Knowing what is right and acting upon it separates great leaders from the merely adequate. Turn your convictions into action and set the gold standard for your team.
4) Be a Visionary: The ability to envision the company 5 years down the line is an asset which great leaders possess. You develop strategies and tactics to achieve the vision. The goals should be well documented and referenced continuously and frequently. Without strategies or goals you will never make any significant progress.
5) Be Passionate About Winning: A great leader wants to win, to be the best in the industry and to develop others to achieve their full potential. Passion goes beyond desire. Passion provides momentum even in the face of adversity and ignites the organization as they see the results of tirelessly pursuing the dream.
6) Keep a Positive Attitude: Stephen Covey used a 90/10 principle to explain the importance of having a positive attitude which states that 10% of life is made up of what happens to you and 90% is determined by your reaction to what has happened to you. Great leaders practice this principle and demonstrate it by being enthusiastic, cheerful and energetic.
7) Build Strong Relationships: Leadership is about trust, which is at the core of relationships. Can you follow someone that you do not trust? Would you even care to be associated with such a person? Of course not. Relationships built on trust and respect enable candid feedback without which improvement is impossible. A great leader builds strong and respectful relationships that are beneficial to everyone.
8) Be Composed During Tough Times: Maintaining calmness when the boat is rocking is an invaluable quality that great leaders exhibit. It helps the rest of the team to calm down and be objective about the situation at hand. Even when they cannot be certain about what will happen next, they try to make sense of the situation and focus on solutions in times of crisis or uncertainty.
9) Listens to Others: Critical feedback can be negative but, by listening to others, a great leader shows that they value and appreciate input. They also do not wait for the feedback to be volunteered but instead solicit it from all relevant stakeholders. Effective communication is two-way and it takes great character to be humble and listen, truly listen to feedback.
10) Celebrate Progress: A great leader understands the value of acknowledging and celebrating progress. He or she does not wait until the final achievement, but celebrates each benchmark as it is completed. Acknowledgements keep the team motivated and focused on attaining the big goal.
Great Leaders set themselves apart by following these principles and practices and by creating the fertile environment to develop these traits in others.