3 Things Great Leaders Do

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Great leaders;

  1. Begin with the end in mind

This concept, popularized by Dr. Stephen R. Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, in my opinion, is one of the most important traits of great leaders. Although Dr. Covey taught this concept from the perspective of self-leadership, it is critical in any form of leadership including leading others.

You simply can’t take people where you haven’t been to. It is equally hard to inspire people to action when you can’t see the end yourself. Demotivated people have to be one of the most difficult to lead because they just don’t have any reason to act. What makes some of the greatest leaders in history highly successful? They had the capacity to motivate and inspire action. In the context of organizational leadership, large or small, people give their best only when they are inspired to. That inspiration is the leader’s job to find and share with the team. And how does a leader find this inspiration? By starting from the end. What do you want to achieve? What will success look like? What does that mean for everyone? When a leader shares a vision that is compelling enough, much of the work is done.

2. Inspire action not demand it

If you ask me what the opposite of Inspirational Leadership is, I’ll say Positional leadership. Positional leadership often comes with titles and some form of validation. John Maxwell regards positional leadership as the ‘bottom floor” of leadership. Positional leaders may earn the right to lead but not necessarily the right to be followed. For instance, a junior staff has to respect and follow his line manager not because he wants to but because he has to. His line manager’s position is validated by the management of the organization they both function in. It is in his best interest to follow.

Positional leadership is a good place to start but never a good place to stay; it can only take a team as far. As I mentioned earlier, a common trait of great leaders is their ability to inspire. Inspiration will take a team much farther than coercion can. It’s the difference between great teams and the not so great ones. Leading by inspiration takes courage, empathy, and belief, like the higher road to anything, it also often takes time. Inspired followers are more likely to give beyond what is expected because they are motivated by the end, the leader, and his belief in them.

3. Think Win-Win, all the time

“When one side benefits more than the other, that’s a win-lose situation. To the winner, it might look like success for a while, but in the long run, it breeds resentment and distrust.” — Dr. Stephen R. Covey.

Great leaders think win-win and they do it all the time. You can’t truly inspire people to act when they still have doubts about what your motives are. Humans are socially attuned animals, we know when people have our best interests at heart, and when they don’t; it can only at best be hidden for a short while. Great leaders inspire others by starting from the end and they keep the momentum by staying true to the end. When a leader keeps his intentions transparent and his motivations pure, his followers will focus on the goal and give their best to achieve it.

When the team wins, everybody wins.

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Busayo Durojaye

Busayo Durojaye

90 Followers

I am a big believer in People. If I can inspire one person through my writing, I’d think I’ve done a pretty good job. Twitter — @busayodurojaye