What is it that makes a great leader? What characteristics and qualities help to inspire, motivate and drive teams and companies to success.
Having worked in senior leadership roles for over 25 years, leading large change initiatives, and teams of 1000 staff, and also coaching many, many executive leaders here are seven qualities that I have seen that have been used to great effect to achieve success and drive results.
You have to be able to engage your teams, get them to buy in to what it is that you’re trying to do, without engagement your chances of success are little to nil. Given that in the US the average employee engagement is only 32%, it’s clear that not enough leaders take this either seriously, or see it as their job. But studies show that engaged teams out perform disengaged teams, and great leaders know this, and they see it as their primary function.
You can’t really engage with people from behind a desk, or via email, you have to get out there and meet people, speak with them, connect with them. You need to share your vision and objectives and show them what’s in it for them, when you can do that then your teams will be willing to follow you and commit to the goal.
When you’re empathetic, it allows you to make much stronger connections and relationships with your teams. It’s going to help you to put yourself into their positions which will help you create better communication that increases understanding, and when people can understand it’s easier for them to become involved.
As Stephen Covey says, “first seek to understand if you want to be understood.” Empathy also helps you to build trust, which is a cornerstone of great leadership.
If you want people to be engaged, then you have to be engaged, you have to show passion and enthusiasm for the goals and objectives. If you are not enthusiastic, then why shouldn’t anyone else be. Enthusiasm is infectious, the more enthusiasm you display, the more this will rub off on your team.
When you put people in a position where they can be successful, in my experience, most people will take it. No one comes to work wanting to do a poor job or to go home feeling like they have achieved very little. When people are successful, it feeds into their self-esteem, their sense of worth, which motivates and encourages them to do even more. The more you can enable your teams, removing the roadblocks that prevent them being achieving the goals, the more successful they will be.
As well as enabling teams by removing roadblocks we need to give them the freedom to do their jobs in the way the best see fit, especially where they are experts in what they are doing. I am amazed at how many companies stifle results and growth by restricting their employees, limiting them to just mindlessly following processes. Hold your teams accountable for outcomes, and empower them to figure out the best way to achieve the goals. As General Patton said “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
When you empower people, you increase their motivation, commitment, and ownership all of which will show benefits in results.
Once you have your teams engaged and making progress, then you need to be focused on encouraging them keeping them going, to keep driving forward until success is achieved. What gets recognized gets repeated, and rewarding or praising your teams in your teams in public is the best way to encourage them. You also need to report on progress too as it can be difficult to see the progress made when you’re hard at it. You have to take the time to show your teams how far they have come, to encourage them to keep going to the end.
Great leaders need to be able to execute themselves. They need to be role models, able to roll up their sleeves and be able to work side-by-side with their teams. They need to be able to show that they know how to lead, that the have the expertise and knowledge of what needs to be done and can put together a plan and approach that will lead to success. This will help build trust and give people the feeling that they are working with you rather than for you.
If you want to be a great leader who achieves great things, the more of these 7 E’s that you can master the easier it will become for you, and it will make people want to come and work with you. It will increase your reputation and put you in demand, opening up bigger and better opportunities for you.
By Gordon Tredgold
Founder and CEO, Leadership Principles