Leadership is a critical and fundamental business need for both large and small companies alike. Great leaders are those who inspire greatness in others, and are motivated by the success of their team’s combined efforts. Famed Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi said “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” If you have a leadership role in any organization, you should work diligently to hire the best and the brightest, while inspiring them with your vision, commitment and support of all their efforts. Leaders need to have or cultivate these crucial personality traits while having the ability to pull the best out of each individual. So, what makes a great leader you ask…
Authenticity, great leaders are sincere, honest and ethical. They understand that they are not only a role model for their team members, but also a mentor and friend who can facilitate and encourage positive standards. To do this, one must show they have these qualities themselves and live and work with that attitude at the forefront of every discussion. Leadership is set by example, not just by telling, therefore an authentic leader shows their staff how to encapsulate these traits and also allows open lines of communication so any issue can be handled properly.
Lightheartedness, keeping things in good spirits, even in the face of what some would deem a disaster, is an exceptional leadership trait. Learn to laugh through the challenges and teach your team to do the same. Any team’s morale and attitude is linked to its overall productivity, so one of your tasks as its leader is to keep the positive vibes flowing all the time. It also shows you have a personal side, a side you can positively reference when teams are clashing, peoples attitudes are flaring and the outlook seems grim, you quickly put all of it into perspective.
Commitment, leading by example is a keen inspiration for your team. When people see you prove your commitment by rolling up your sleeves and working hard to meet a goal, they know you are seriously committed to success. Raise the bar, join the team on a project and take a “dirty” task, show them how you conquer it with precise decision. This raises the level of respect they have for you, and encourages them to deliver for you. Commitment is being dedicated to a cause, project or task, it’s working together as a team to accomplish an end goal and not giving up till it’s done right, with everyone rowing in the same direction the boat goes much faster. Remember, the “rising tide lifts all boats” and if the team feels this way, it will show in the work.
Decisiveness, great leaders are not afraid to tackle a challenge, make a decision, and see it through to the end. Being decisive during times of crisis is one of the marks of true leadership ability. The decision may not always lead to the desired outcome, but lack of taking action is far worse. Adjust as necessary, and always move forward.
Strategic Vision, visionary leaders are excellent at strategic planning, and at surrounding themselves with smart people that need no micro-management. These leaders are charismatic and are adept communicators. They inspire their team with clear substance and parameters, and then allow them to choose the path to achieve the objectives. Strategic vision gives the group an overlying roadmap for success, it shows you understand all aspects of the business as a leader and can map it back to projects that create value. The best visionary leaders are able to think ahead, build out a strong tactical plan to execute and then rely on the committed team behind them to get it done. This doesn’t always come naturally to leaders, it’s really being in-touch with your mind and gut at the same time, knowing you are making the right choice and feeling.
Supportiveness, the greatest leaders are risk-takers, and they also support their team in taking calculated risks. These leaders realize that strictly adhering to bureaucracy can squash exceptional ideas, and they allow their team to think “outside the box” while backing them up completely if things go amiss. This is probably one of the most important traits, being a supportive leader will help the team understand all the above traits in an easier more authentic way. It’s not just telling them you support them but also showing them, helping them and moving barriers to get real work done.
Truly great leaders are exceptional role models; they lead by example, constantly teaching and motivating others. Always being passionate about your work inspires your team to support you, and your objectives, wholeheartedly. Who knows, you might inspire greatness in one of them!