18 July 2019
Are leaders born or made? Both!
But what is more important is that leaders are constantly learning and evolving. No one can be great at everything. I have learned over the years that it is an ongoing task to develop into a great leader. It is something that I am working on to this day, and will continue to work on for the rest of my life.
Along the way, I have picked up some tips on what makes the best kind of leaders in business and beyond. Here are four of my thoughts:
Create more leaders
A sign of a great leader is someone who creates more leaders. It is someone who can share responsibility, step back and let others take the reins. Poor leaders are those who hold onto everything. Those who want to maintain every facet of control within the business and everything that it does. No one can be all things to all people. That’s a sure-fire way for things to start slipping and for you to burn out. Instead, develop leaders who you entrust to take on their own areas of the business to grow.
Be a humble leader
The single most important part of being a leader is humility. There is no room for egos.
All too often the destructive behaviour of the big, brash characters we see representing business leaders on the TV paint the wrong picture of what a leader should be. Your biggest responsibility is to support those around you.
When your ego gets in the way, you lose the support and respect of your team. That means that you are no longer able to motivate them to achieve their best. You are no longer a leader, you’re a wannabe, struggling to achieve the results that your business needs.
Leadership is no longer about being a mystery figure to be feared at every turn. This is how it used to be. Big heavy doors, behind which sit CEOs and bosses, who you only visit when you have something to answer for. That’s no way to lead a business or a team. The greatest managers are focussed on supporting the people around them. Rather than their own position and success, they are centred on helping those around them to grow.
I watched a video by American entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck (aka Gary Vee) in which he said that kindness is the greatest strength. I couldn’t agree more. You will achieve so much more success in life when you focus on what you can do for others, rather than yourself.
A good leader listens
Many years ago a friend of mine told me that we have ‘two ears and one mouth’ and we should use them in that ratio. It was one of the greatest lessons that I have ever learned. When you listen to your team, you learn more about them – how they are motivated, how they learn and what they want from their career.
I had always assumed that money was the greatest motivator until I read a book called the Extra Mile by David MacLeod. I learned that it is development and growth that motivates people far more than monetary gain. Had I listened properly to my team at that time, I would have known that already. Now we invest heavily in training and development to ensure that our team are always growing and learning.
I cannot emphasise heavily enough how important it is, as a leader, to listen to those around you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, these are simply things that I have learned and continue to learn every day. What have you found makes a great leader? Share your thoughts in the comments below.