30 May 2019
There are many different viewpoints on what it takes to be a leader, but what does it take to be one of the greats, a leader who always helps their team achieve the greatest results?
I have learned many leadership lessons over the years and continue to learn more with each passing day! So for today’s post, I have collated some of my tips and would love for you to share yours in the comments below.
A leader who listens
The media portrays leaders as these larger than life, truculent characters who are almost Godzilla-like in their approach. They smash in, tear people down, shout and point the finger. Look at The Apprentice, House of Cards, Silicon Valley, MadMen; the list goes on!
However, that’s not really how the world works.
Forget shouting people down, forget pointing fingers and drumming your chest. The sign of a genuinely great leader is being able to listen. Taking the time to really hear what people are saying is absolutely invaluable. It enables you to make positive decisions that amplify the success of the people who you are in charge of.
It is also worth remembering that it’s not always the people who shout the loudest or put themselves forward who make the best leaders. Leadership takes humility, patience and the ability to listen above all else.
Developing confidence in people
Along the same line, being a leader is about building your team’s confidence to empower them to achieve their goals and, in turn, the greater goals of the business. So how do you do that? In my opinion, confidence comes from feedback, from championing the great achievements and from supporting the areas in which people need to develop more.
We’re undeniably seeing a dip in confidence and rise in mental health issues in the people entering the workplace these days. I believe that this is in part down to the focus on sport being reduced in schools. It seems that many educational organisations are centred on the measured academic environment and there is a reduction in physical education, however leadership is learned in different ways, many of which can be developed through sport. So as a new generation of workers and potential leaders enters the workplace, we need to be armed with the skills and tools to help build their confidence for the future.
Promoting from within
Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great and Built to Last, saw in his research that the businesses that succeeded grew their leadership layer from within. Why? Because when you grow leaders from within your existing team, they already live and breathe the culture. Whereas when you bring in a leader at a high level, it they have their own ideas of what culture is which may clash with what you’ve built up within the company.
Equally, the greatest motivator – above financial gain – is personal development. When you show someone that they are empowered, trusted and valued as a leader within the business, they are far more likely to be happy, passionate and productive in their role.
Don’t tell, ask
Ask your leaders what they think they should do rather than telling them what to do. Give them the opportunity to grow. The job of a leader is to grow more leaders, it is that simple. And the best way to grow new leaders is certainly not by telling them what they should do at each and every turn; micromanagement is the single biggest bugbear of mine when it comes to leadership. Over the years I have learned that you reap far greater rewards by empowering people to make their own decisions, make their own mistakes and carve their path within the business.
Hand it over
When I was MD at UKFast, I was incredibly involved operationally, I was at the coal face. I managed the sales team directly, as well as the marketing team. Now I have stepped back, I can see the view. And I have learned that in stepping back I haven’t given something up, I’ve empowered myself to give better advice and make better decisions. It also opened up opportunities for the other leaders in the business to take the lead. Now rather than being on the sales floor managing the day-to-day of the team, I am instead there for the board of directors, able now to see the wood for the trees and operate on a more strategic level.
Say thank you
It’s the simplest leadership advice that I can give you, but it is arguably the most important. Always thank your team for the work, effort and passion that they bring to their roles.
What are you leadership lessons? What have you learned along the way? Share your tips in the comments below.