Bill Gates: As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others...
What defines a great leader? Leadership is the process of social influence which maximises the efforts of others towards the achievement of a greater good.
Leadership is a topic that has been discussed for decades. There are many ways that people can learn about becoming a great leader – through books, training, mentors etc.. people are constantly working towards being better leaders.
To break it down into one simple truth; leadership is about people, connections, relationships and authenticity. To be a great leader you need to start with the foundation of being a real, authentic and genuine person.
In today’s business world ‘culture’ is a greatly discussed topic – it is also mentioned a number of times in my most recent blogs (click here to read more). In a business environment, culture needs to be respected, lived and breathed through the entire business. If the leader doesn’t live and breathe the culture, what’s the point?
It is scarily common for people to put up a façade, a façade is a misrepresentation of someone’s true self. As talent, we want to know that our leaders are real human beings with dreams, goals, struggles, and fears. What are some ways to work towards being a great leader?
Let's break them down below;
01: Leave Your Ego at the Door
Ego comes in many different forms and most of the time we are unaware that our ego is in action.
Many big companies are run by an ‘alpha male’ or ‘alpha female’ who tend to miss the opportunity to become great leaders... why? Because instead of genuinely connecting with their talent they are masters of sarcasm and arguing, they instill fear with power. Alphas tend to have quite big egos and are often incapable of having conversations that don’t revolve around them. People who believe that a certain title demands respect are already doing themselves a disservice. From the CEO to the assistant and the cleaner – everyone deserves the same level of respect in a business.
02: Be Authentic
Just be real. Yes, in particular, business settings and environments there is a certain need for employers and managers to hold a level of power. But power doesn’t come with force and fear. You have more chance of your talent respecting you and valuing you as a leader with respect over fear. Have you ever noticed that when you use threat tactics or forcefully command attention with false charisma that you don’t particularly get the same outcome you were looking for?
Human beings do not respond well to threats or a forceful approach, this can often have an adverse reaction.
Being authentic is showing up with your best and true self, It's leading from your mind and also your heart. Great leaders display authenticity by finding the time for laughter and joy. Authentic leaders are self-aware, they are real and they treat their talent and team as individual human beings with respect and dignity.
03: See Two Sides of the Coin
Great leaders don’t assume or jump to conclusions. Before a great leader does something, they look at the whole picture and will look at the situation from several angles. Great leaders talk to people to gain perspective and get clarity before they determine a course of action.
When dealing with conflict or uncomfortable situations, a great and authentic leader will have the courage to run towards the eye of the storm because they understand and appreciate that cutting through conflict to resolve a problem with respect is easier than the negative consequences of running away from it.
A great leader will not ignore an uncomfortable situation, they will speak about it openly, ask for genuine feedback and absorb it.
04: Be a Teacher and a Student
Great leaders understand that they don’t know everything. Great leaders are constantly learning, growing and developing in their career and also their lives. Great leaders make mistakes, admit that they have made a mistake and then allow themselves to learn from their mistakes. Have you ever sat in a meeting where your manager or employer has admitted to making an error and accepting that they made a mistake..? Allowing yourself to be accountable for your actions is massive. People are so quick to jump up and claim accountability for a positive result or a ‘win’ – but not so much for one that has a negative outcome or leads to a ‘loss’. Great leaders admit defeat and then learn from it.
05: Be Trustworthy
Talent responds to leaders that they can trust and are motivated by trustworthy businesses.
Because they want to feel safe.
When your talent is able to take risks and exercise their creativity you will see their satisfaction increase. Allow your talent to make decisions and have a voice – it will make them feel you actually care about their thoughts, skills and what they can bring to the table. A great leader will actually care about all of this anyway.
The title ‘leader’ is not one that you can claim for yourself. It’s not one that you put against your name because you think you’re a great leader. No, a leader is given the title, they earn the title. You don’t automatically gain the right to call yourself a leader because you have a higher pay grade or a bigger office.
What do you think defines a great leader? What suggestions do you have? What mistakes have you made?
Happy Hump Day!
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