One of the most key and significant roles of any entrepreneur is that of attracting motivated, dedicated and, above all, highly professional workers to support them in their business growth. No man is an island and in order to succeed in any sort of business, it is necessary to not only attract top level talent during recruitment stages but to also to keep employees and clients motivated and believing in what it is you are doing.
"It is very difficult to lead today when people are not really truly participating in the decision. You won't be able to attract and retain great people if they don't feel like they are part of the authorship of the strategy and the authorship of the really critical issues. If you don't give people an opportunity to really be engaged, they won't stay." -Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
Poor leadership can have a number of detrimental effects on a company. However, we can all be thankful that, whilst some good leaders are undoubtedly born and not made, their is a ray of hope for those of us who may struggle with the idea of being at the forefront of a great idea. With the right training and attitude, good quality leadership skills are traits which can be harnessed and honed to the point where a single person can effectively be the sole head of a multi million pound company whilst employing thousands of staff and overseeing immeasurable client meetings and business deals daily. One of the first steps to harnessing these skills is recognising the difference between a leader and a manager. Although both leaders and managers can be the same person given the nature of the jobs complimenting each other, it is important to recognise that they are in fact separate roles:
A leader is someone who inspires, encourages and motivates people into achieving their visionary goals. It is their job to spearhead campaigns and ignite passion and drive into the people they are working with.
A managers main role on the other hand the hand is to oversee the actual structure of a business and maintain the effective running of day to day tasks. Examples can include budget planning, evaluating business operations and staff training.
So what traits make a good leader? A simple google search will reveal that the world and his wife all have a different answer to this question? However, upon reflection, study and most importantly, practical experience, I have narrowed it down to 5 specific traits that all great leaders share:
Great leaders in any field recognise the need for self awareness when building a team in order to balance their own strengths and weaknesses and know what skills to hire. A lack of self awareness will often lead to overconfidence, arrogance and in some cases, resentment from other team members. Not only that, but not being self aware can also lead to poor decision making further down the line.
Following on from self awareness, a key part of being a meaningful leader is having the emotional and mental maturity to take accountability when things go wrong. Likewise, when some sort of success is achieved, he or she shouldn’t take glory but rather credit the whole team. As author and entrepreneur Arnold Glasow said: “a good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.” When completing tasks, be sure to hand out praise and recognition to colleagues. This will encourage employees to continually raise the bar of their capabilities and push themselves continuously further.
Have you ever worked for or with someone who was convinced that they were always right even when they weren't? Apart from being incredibly annoying, this kind of character trait hinders personal and professional development as the person will be stuck in the mindset that they have nothing else to learn. Good leaders don’t just offer direction; they engage with their team, they ask for advice and different viewpoints and they are willing to listen to those around them. Demonstrating your willingness to learn from your team inspires respect from them.
Modern leaders recognise the importance of communicating with their team on a daily basis. Within any organisation, it is imperative that issues and problems that arise are brought to light quickly to ensure that they can be dealt with with the minimum amount of disruption. Effective leaders work quickly and decisively with their team in order to swiftly implement solutions to setbacks
The very definition of the word “lead” means to go first and pave the way. Therefore, probably what is the most crucial element of exemplary leadership is that of never asking something of your team that you yourself are not willing to do yourself. When knowing that a leader is totally committed to a cause, not micromanaging tasks, but rather taking the time to truly develop an understanding of what needs to be done, team members will be inclined to follow and invest their trust more willingly than when they are simply being ordered about.
Above all, effective leadership boils down to the ability to motivate and drive a workforce towards a common goal whilst keeping your team positive and optimistic about what they are doing. Whether you are a small business or startup, or an established and well known brand, quality leadership can often mean the difference between success and failure.