Too many clichés and archaic thoughts surround leadership. We have all heard how leadership is a natural and inborn skill and how only those blessed with such skills can effectively become successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. We have also seen how ridiculously wrong those statements are. There are numerous stories of triumphant entrepreneurs doing the rounds. The stories that involve reasonably young business leaders capture our attention the most. We automatically assume that they are natural born leaders, granted the innate ability to pick the right products, talents and ideas to invest their funds in, thereby gaining popularity and success in equal measure. A deeper insight into their lives will certainly throw light on the real reasons behind their success.
The best and the most effective leaders, in most cases, are not born but made. Keeping their senses tuned to the outside world, adapting to changes, constantly appraising their strengths and weaknesses, accepting mistakes and learning from them and those of others around them. These qualities are a result of constant experimentation and experience which leads us to conclude that better and effective leaders are made. Here is how you can conquer that Everest.
Lead by Example
Accepted! This might sound a bit old-school but it is extremely relevant even today. Integrity is a word that will never go out of fashion and when it is coupled with trust, it becomes all the more important to maintain both. Un-kept promises are the major reason for a leadership collapse. When your credibility falls, so does your ability to hold together a team. Ensure that you do not make promises that are impossible to keep. Even if you end up doing so, ensure that you leave no stone unturned in getting it done. Be a stringent follower of business ethics, what you do not pursue, you cannot expect your team to.
Communication and Support
Having an honest and open communication channel is another vital aspect of being a great leader. Clarity and sincerity in communication will ensure that expectations are set clearly and resources are utilized wisely and optimally. An honest yet subtle feedback mechanism is essential to maintain a healthy work environment. Work hard to identify the best in people and support them to enhance those specific qualities. A personal interest in every team member’s growth and sensitivity towards their issues will certainly help forge better professional relationships.
Dance to Changing Tunes
The order of the world and its inhabitants is not written on stone. Times change, so do people and their perspectives. A poor leader will be blind to such vagaries and this will ultimately result in the collapse of the entire business unit. A good leader will be aware of what is happening around him or her but a great leader will ensure that he or she comprehends the situation deeply enough to adapt to it thereby ensuring the sustenance of the business. Resources and technologies are as inconsistent as people. Keeping tabs on changes will ensure their optimal utilization which in turn will help a leader to stay afloat even in the most challenging of economic and financial conditions.
Have a Macro Approach – The Vision
A detailed and microscopic analysis of people, situations, ideas and feedbacks is necessary but the big picture should not be lost in your quest for minuscule achievements. Business visions should be wider and more accommodating of changes. Looking through the veil and getting a hang of how the future will shape your business and what transformations you might need in order to walk in the same pace is extremely crucial to ensure the survival of your business. The business puzzle can be solved only if you have a thirst for the bigger picture. Picking up such an approach will benefit your business immensely instead of spending hours in micro-analyzing costs. This same ‘big picture’ approach can be utilized for employee and client management too.
Be a Student for Life
One of the most distinguishing qualities of a great leader is his or her acceptance of the ‘learning is perennial’ concept. Every person you meet and every situation you are put in will make you that much wiser than yesterday. Instead of dwelling on problems, it is sensible to pick out the opportunities and add them to your ‘lesson of the day’ list. Being a ‘Jack of All Trades’ is the best option when you are a leader. Never put a full stop to your learning. New subjects, technologies and innovations are what will keep you ahead in the rat race. Enhancing your knowledge base to include a wide variety of topics will not only make you a well-respected personality in the eyes of your employees and clients, but also it will also help you anticipate business problems and take preventive measures to circumvent their occurrence.
Inspire and Empower
Sometimes the journey is more important than the path and sometimes it is just the opposite. It is vital to understand the significance of the word ‘individuals’. Every person has a different approach and style. Your focus should be on how to extract the best out of each person and enhance his or her personal growth in the process and not their own individual approaches to problems. You should realize the need to step forward when a push in the right direction is needed and to step away when the process begins. This is the key to empowerment and inspiration.
Being a better leader does not negate the need to be hard at times. Taking difficult decisions is an integral part of leadership. The difference lies in the ‘when’. When people are more important than procedures, when budget is more important than comfort and when business is more important than people. You just have to go back to the ‘be a student for life’ point and tell yourself that you will be the best pupil.