When we look at successful businesses, both locally and beyond, a common trait many of them share is strong leadership at the top. What are some qualities that set a leader apart from being a manager?
Some leadership qualities are to be the following: Courageous, big thinker, change master, ethical, persistent yet realistic, risk taker, positive and hopeful, morally strong, decision maker and committed.
It is also important to accept and use power wisely, and to have a sense of humor.
How would you rate yourself on these attributes of what a successful leader is?
A successful leader is someone who communicates well, surrounds themselves with like-minded people, forms one-on-one relationships, is a good listener, refuses to let others dictate how they should do things, is able to identify one’s own strengths and weaknesses, displays a high level of optimism and confidence, acknowledges the need to or for change, is patient, and one of the most important traits in my opinion is being passionate about what they do.
The difficult thing here is to truly look in the mirror on these ten attributes, and not just say “of course I do,” but really drill down to get a reality check of perception versus reality. A true self-analysis is important here, and should also include family, friends or peers that can be totally candid in giving feedback, both positive and negative, to the individual. Leave the ego at the door! And set a realistic game plan to target and address both the strongest and most challenging attributes, while working on the middle on a day-in and day-out basis.
Here are examples of multiple leadership messages to learn from:
• Leaders have a clear point of view
• Leaders are agents for organizational change
• Leaders are people who, lacking authority or if their authority is taken away, still achieve results
• Leaders continually grow through study and introspection
• Leaders focus on how to best use their time and expertise and the time and expertise of others
• Leaders spend 60 to 80% of their day focusing on the top 4 to 8 items in their work
• Leaders not only do things right, they do the right things right
• Leaders use strategic anticipation: they expect the best but plan for the worst
• Leaders achieve excellence by investing time and energy if it makes the product, service or outcome noticeably better for their customers
• Leaders dare to be different, ask the right questions, search for the right answers and are willing to make mistakes
• Leaders realize that the less you know about a situation, the easier it is to make the wrong decision
• Leaders follow the adage “if it isn’t broken, make it better”
• Leaders create a sense of urgency and continually ask “what’s next?”
• Leaders constantly ask themselves and others what has been done to add value to the organization
• Leaders make the system conform to the people, not the reverse
• Leaders realize that performance is achieved through coaching, training and practice
• Leaders know that when values are clear, decision making is easy
• Leaders create leaders
In this COVID-19 time and the current divisive national climate, I would like us to reflect on leadership rules that are as timely today as when they were written several years ago. Colin Powell has written thirteen rules of leadership that he has used in his extensive military service and career that is inspiring, yet practical:
• It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning
• Get mad and then get over it!
• Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it
• It can be done
• Be careful whom you choose
• Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision
• You can’t make someone else’s decision. You shouldn’t allow someone else to make yours
• Check the small things
• Share credit
• Remain calm. Be kind
• Have a vision. Be demanding
• Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers
• Perpetual optimism
We have started a new year that is full of hope and anticipation of getting life back to “normal” over the next year as COVID-19 vaccinations are administered.
Meanwhile, people must continue to maintain the necessary directives we have been living with and hopefully practicing over the past year related to keeping ourselves and our community healthy and safe.
With a fresh start in 2021, practice the leadership qualities approach, and you will see your business not only stabilize but grow for the long term.