In a constantly moving economy , companies still need to do a lot of work to ensure they have the right leaders developed, who are able to meet the demands of the environment and lead the company and the team to the next big growth milestones. The paradigms of leadership have replaced the widely admired management theories from 20th century. But still, replacing something does not mean that you have a developed replacement. As there where so many theories and definitions of management, today you can read about different definitions and theories for leadership. As an essence of all of them the role of the excellent leader has evolved as “someone who clearly understands what brings accountability, engagement and motivation in the work environment and leads the team or organization so , that those three elements interact with each other to ensure future growth.” The theories from the first 20 years of 21st century have evolved to help organizations and business schools extract the essence of what makes a good leader having the skills to leads by example and ensure results and growth for organization and the people led. Here I’m offering you the 10 qualities I believe are crucial to become the exceptional leader you want to be and start leading others the way they can see how the contribute to future success and grow and develop as personalities.
Behave with integrity
One of the widely seen development areas for leaders today (68% of leaders have it according to a Korn Ferry research from 2016) is integrity and honesty. Let’s face it, most leaders have learned to lie others. There may be different reasons for that – maybe they try to lower stress, or save people from a bad news that can affect their performance and level of accountability, etc. Still, when the followers or team members understand that the leader behaves differently then the values the company has communicated and stated as ethical behavior they become disappointed and start following that behavior. The result is that some employees, strongly connected to the company values often quit disappointed and others, who see an opportunity create a different style of culture, enabling them to act behind the back of their colleagues and even the leader. So, the first quality of the leading by example leader should be to act with integrity – to state the values he lives, to encourage others to live these values too, and show no compromise when these values are ignored.
Trusted and trusting
Leaders biggest challenge is trust. In a world full of fake leaders in politics, bank institutions leaders who can brake a whole bank system and automakers sued for manipulating data it is important for every leader to act with thrust. The leader role now is to build trust in his actions and decisions. Only the one who is sincere can win others for the next big change. On the other hand, there is a behavior you will need to build being seen as trusting person. The times of the controlling leaders are long in the past. A leader who is not trusting it’s team decisions and expertise can fall from a winner to a total loser. To win a fast changing and always demanding environment you must act with trust to all your team members seen them as motivated, engaged and accountable experts than just tools who can help you to finish your job.
Respected and respectful
Being trusted is one thing, but being respected is different. Respect is won through leaders behavior and position toward others. To be respected you need to act respectful toward others. In short that means to respect others different styles in behavior, thinking and acting and try to change them only if they affect the cultural and values built environment. The leader is respected if he is seen as someone who acts as a defender of the values and does not change his/her behavior according to the person. Establishing and following clear rules that ensure values driven results can empower others to participate in your plans and positions you as a respected leader.
Communicates quickly, widely and effectively
Have you been in a meeting where your only thought is where will this meeting be over and how boring and useless it is. To be a leader means not only to plan your time for success, but also respect others time invested with you. The best leaders are those who can widely and clearly explain an idea, giving enough information to others to make the put efforts on finishing the job, but without communicating unnecessary details that only lose others time. Think of that: Can you say what you want to say with half of the words and how will that affect the understanding of others and
Seeks out and acts on others views
It is lonely there were a leader stays if the ideas he/she has are only seen as success opportunities from him/her. A good leader involves others into his/her vision to success. To become one you will need to learn that other people also have ideas and some of these ideas are even better than yours. A good leader is not the one who can control others to pursue his/her ideas, but the one who seeks diversity and powers others to share views and is not afraid to accept ideas coming from outside, seeing the value in them. Discussing others ideas and implementing them in the process of goal achievement is another step that leads to a closer positive build of high motivation, engagement and accountability in others toward the goals the leader has set for achievement.
Recognizes contribution of others
Years ago I have worked for a multinational company where my manager wanted to took all the credits for our ideas as a team for herself. We often heard only her name being said from the HR Director- she was the smartest, the most creative, goal oriented person in the room. Then one day, with my colleagues we decided to move from active to a passive position and wait for our manager next big miracle to happen. In just 3 months she got 10 negative feedbacks how slow we are moving as a team and how our productivity has collapsed. After two very hard sessions with her, we a s a team told her directly in the face that we feel somehow excluded from the success we have worked so hard to create. On the next department meeting she stand up and gave a praise of every of us in front of the whole department pointing how each of us has contributed for our team success. And after that we continued with this positive approach and our results have grown rapidly.
The learning here is that if you need engaged and accountable people, trying their best to help you achieve your leadership goals, you will need to acknowledge their contribution. Don’t think how things look to you . Something that may look small and insignificant for you may be a turning point for others and a true motivator to boost their energy and effort.
Positive and enthusiastic
Have you seen someone who looks like a black cloud. These people are often negatively charged and cost the team their productivity and goals achievement. But you need to understand that people in the team or organization are representation of their leadership team. If the leaders always look negative and not cooperative so does the team starts to work. To change that you need to find your positive attitude and show it to the others. When people see how energetic, enthusiastic and oriented for success you are as a leader they are also going to copy that expression and show their positive attitude and energy, ready to be involved into task completion and goal achievement. Positive behavior creates positive outcomes, and energetic approach serves as a standard for others to show their energy and attachment to the global goals achievement. Underestimating that can cause you a serious lack of goals achievement.
Nurtures, support and creates accountability
You want everyone to succeed, because you know that this will also help you with your goals. Then stop controlling and demanding input and move to nurturing and supporting. People always give their best , but when they meet obstacles and don’t feel supported from the leader they start thinking of the importance of the task. If you demand something, but only control the process of delivery without investing some time to support the person when needed and explain why is the thing you want so important to be done than you will lose at the final sprint. Investing time to explain, support in a process are building higher level of accountability in others and make them more engaged to the final goal.
I have a colleague who is inspiring at the words he uses, but terrible at the things he does. This person promises something just tell you at the day when you expect the result that you need to wait a little bit more, because he was not able to manage the load and didn’t meet the deadline he gave you. Maybe you all have a person like this one. No matter how smart the leader is, or how charming looks, the leader role is to set up a standard for effectiveness. And there is no better way to that then to be seen as an example. If you need to inspire others to work harder and deliver better results within tighter deadlines then you need to start from yourself. Look at the task and deadlines you have established and think again if they really look possible. If not, you need to renegotiate them. The thing here is that if you renegotiate the deadline you will need to stick to this deadline and try everything to meet it. Another renegotiation is not an option. People led by example must see a real example of accountability and engagement from the leader. They copy hat they see that is why you behavior toward tasks and goals is crucial for the whole team productivity and goal orientation.
The times when you have learned something and started working using one and the same skill are long gone. The leader today is seen as someone who learns something new everyday and adapts it’s behavior to the changing environment requirements. You can learn from an online course, a conference or community meeting you attend, from your experience with others, by reading a book or listening to a podcast, etc. Still what counts more and attracts people to you is what you have learned and how this learned content makes you think and act on changing the environment to enable others to learn develop and grow.
Being a great leader is a dream for many people in the world, but becoming one is combination of hard work, persistence and a lot of energy investment. You want to be a great leader- well, start with first knowing yourself and then realizing that great leadership comes when you are ready to accept yourself the way you are and be ready to change your personality. Nothing else will help you to go the path that can make you a great leader.