Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn all have one thing in common: They’re widely regarded as some of the best leaders in the world today.
But what really makes a great leader?
Is it about knowing how to manage – or is it something entirely different?
What Everyone Is Wrong About Leadership
You may assume that great leadership is all about management – but you would be mistaken.
As you’ll see shortly, leadership encompasses much more than just good management skills.
However, before we dive into exactly what makes a great leader, let’s first take a look at some of the common myths about leadership:
- Great leaders can be trained – While knowledge can be valuable, leadership is more about attitude.
- Great leaders only give orders – Giving orders will at times be necessary, but powerful leadership inspires actions.
- Great leaders know everything – This may appear to be true, but in reality, great leaders are learning all the time.
- Great leaders never fail – It’s impossible to achieve great success, without experiencing many failures along the way.
- Great leaders work alone – You may think of a leader as a lone wolf, but in most cases, leaders love to work with others.
Hopefully, as you’re beginning to see, real leadership is not about macho posturing and dictatorial management.
What True Leadership Really Means
So, what exactly is true leadership?
John Quincy Adams described it this way:
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
It’s an excellent quote, that I’m sure will help you to gain a new perspective on leadership.
Whether it’s politics, business or social causes – great leaders have a definite vision, and know how to inspire and motivate others to help realize that vision.
They do this through traits such as:
- Promoting values.
- Encouraging creativity.
- Building morale.
- Offering guidance.
- Fostering initiative.
As an example for you, do you remember Mahatma Gandhi?
He was able to change the destiny of India by using true leadership characteristics such as: determination, humility, honesty and non-violence. His authentic manner and powerful beliefs led to millions of people following and supporting his cause.
What Makes up a Great Leadership
While the world’s top leaders may be hard to emulate, fortunately, there are several things you can do to begin boosting your leadership qualities.
Let’s take a look…
1. Treat your staff like you expect them to treat your customers.
If you expect your team to be friendly and courteous to customers – then make sure you’re the same with your team members. I remember a manager telling me: “Staff should always be treated like customers.” Adopt this attitude, and your team (and other teams) will be motivated and inspired by your leadership.
2. Practice things that you’re uncomfortable with.
To be a great leader, you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone. If you’re uncomfortable with networking or public speaking (for example), then work on strengthening your skills in these areas. Instead of learning on the job, why not enlist the help of a coach or mentor?
3. Stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends.
Let’s face it, change is the new norm in the 21st century. Whatever your niche or industry, no doubt there are constant amendments, updates and innovations happening daily. As a leader, you need to be aware of these changes. However, don’t become a news junkie, instead, learn to seek out the key trends.
4. Grow yourself, grow your team.
Stop and think about your personal growth. Does it positively impact your team? Of course it does. But you can take this even further by making sure your staff have continual training and development opportunities. Here’s a suggestion for you… Why not take your team to an industry conference, so they can learn and be inspired by some of the best and most successful people. This is a win-win situation. You and your team will both gain valuable knowledge and skills. And you’ll also be helping to promote a healthy team spirit.
5. Learn to keep promises.
Your credibility can be crushed by unfulfilled promises, such as giving your team an expectation of financial bonuses – that never materialize. To be a successful leader, you must always try to keep your promises. Sure, it takes discipline and integrity to achieve this. But in the long term, it will definitely be worth it.
6. Set inspiring goals.
Outstanding leaders always have goals and aims that they are working towards. These could be financial goals, subscriber numbers, or even customer satisfaction targets. Of course, goals can be big, small, short or long term. But you must have them, if you want to achieve success. If your staff know the specific goals that you want to achieve – this will help and inspire them to assist you in reaching these goals.
7. Seek honest feedback.
It’s not easy listening to honest feedback, but often it’s the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Rather than waiting for unsolicited feedback, go ahead and ask your staff and customers what they really think about you and your leadership style. You could also ask them whether they have any suggestions for building your effectiveness as a leader. Just remember, great leaders are not afraid to listen to criticism. Instead, they look on this feedback as an opportunity for learning.
You may not be a natural born leader – but by following the above suggestions you’ll be able to progressively develop your leadership qualities.
Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com
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