What Makes a L.E.A.D.E.R?
It is highly likely that while climbing the corporate ladder you will be promoted into a management position at some point during your professional career, but this does not automatically entitle you to the title of ‘Leader’, as management and leadership do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Someone can be a very good manager of the day to day running of a department or organisation but leadership is something different entirely. A leader is a visionary who has the ability to drive a business forward, but what are the traits you need to possess to consider yourself in this category?
L istener: A leader must be a listener and the linchpin to the business, department or project they are steering. They must be completely aware of the progress that has been made towards any milestones and/or aims and objectives that have been set and they need to have a continuing understanding of feelings of all parties involved throughout the process. This includes staff, senior management, stakeholders and suppliers. If a leader doesn’t fully understand the direction they are going in and the morale of the troops, how can they expect anyone else to follow?
E ngaging: A leader must be engaging and an educator. It is no good having a great strategy if no one wants to listen. The ability to show the way and mentor staff so that they have the skills and knowledge in order to meet their individual objectives is also essential. However, a leader must also be aware of his or her own limitations and take advantage of what they can learn from others. A great leader will allow people around them to grow and will not be intimidated by the successes, since they will have been instrumental in these achievements.
A pproachability: A leader must be approachable. An open door policy is essential, but just because the door is wide open doesn’t mean that people are comfortable walking through it.
Therefore, accessibility and approachability are two separate things. A leader must have the ability to make everyone feel significant no matter how busy they are or how each individual ranks within the grand scheme of things. As well as approachability, visibility is also important. A leader shouldn’t rely solely on people coming to them; they must walk the floor, ask questions and see how people are doing.
D etermination: A leader must be determined from the outset that they are going to achieve their goals. ‘Can’t’ isn’t a word that is within their vocabulary. Their optimism and un-blinkered vision should be the catalyst to motivate even the most cynical of teams. If scepticism is present they need to have the ability to sell their ideas to the team, allow them to believe anything is possible and have the ability to help them visualise success and what it will mean if the vision is ultimately achieved.
E nterprising: A leader must be enterprising and energising. They must be innovative enough to think outside of the box in order to solve problems, but also resourceful enough to know when to outsource when the required expertise isn’t in-house and where to find potential solutions. A great leader will also have the ability to give the people they lead the confidence that they are also smart enough to find solutions and allow them to make suggestions no matter how ridiculous they initially seem. Sometimes the best ideas initially start out being the most ludicrous.
R esilience: A Leader must be resilient. No matter how many or what type of obstacles are thrown in the way, a good leader will have the grit and determination to overcome them time and time again in order to achieve their ultimate goal. Even if everyone else’s head has gone down a leader will have enough determination to reinvigorate the team and be resourceful enough to continue to create solutions at every hurdle.