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Why your business should be looking for a leader, not a boss

In today’s fiercely competitive market, the key to success is having great leaders at the helm of your business.

These leaders are rare and difficult to find; when you do find them, unsurprisingly, their current employer wants to keep them. Here are a few things to look out for when you are on the hunt for your next leader, and why it’s important you don’t mistakenly hire a “boss” who will not drive performance and long term growth for your business.

Inspiration

A leader knows that if their team is motivated, the job will get done well. A leader is the very essence of a company and wants to see everyone succeed. Leaders are able to identify the different qualities in each member of their team. They leave their ego at the door and understand the true art of delegation. While a boss delegates to avoid jobs they don’t want, or because they enjoy flexing their muscles, a leader delegates because they understand and trust their team, and value their skills. A leader strategically navigates the fine line between allocating tasks, providing valuable guidance, and giving their team autonomy.

Don’t shy away from asking candidates to tell you what qualities make a good leader; the right person should know the answers.

Equality

Leaders create an environment of equality. A true leader knows how a company operates from the bottom to the top, and is as comfortable on the shop floor as they are in the boardroom. While a boss is happy to take all the credit for a job well done, a leader values sharing success with others.

This approach is contagious, and filters down the ranks. Employees think of themselves as part of a team with a shared purpose and vision. The result? Personnel take pride in their work and productivity rises. More than that, it creates an energy that customers can actually feel and buy into.

When interviewing candidates, ask about projects they have been involved in, what they achieved and how they did it. If you have a leader sitting in front of you, they will talk in terms of ‘we’, not ‘I’.

Growth

A leader knows that it’s dangerous to rest on your laurels when you reach the top. They exist in a constant state of anticipation, and can think on their feet in a time of crisis. Leaders understand that resistance to change is futile and instead embrace it and make it work for their business.

Look for a CV that shows adaptability. Has your candidate been involved in new projects? Have they implemented new systems and ideas? If so, that’s a promising start.

Growth means making unpopular decisions. Ask your candidates about the difficult decisions they have made and how they handled it.

Think about introducing short exams or intelligence tests as part of your interview process, or asking your candidates how they undertake their analytics. A good leader not only makes tough calls, but can demonstrate that the business has benefited as a result.

Communication

Leaders are great communicators. They can be approached with everything from new ideas to problems, and their team have confidence that they will be heard. When problems arise, they don’t shout or reprimand, creating a culture of fear and finger-pointing. Instead they provide constructive criticism and useful feedback, focusing on how improvements can be made in future processes.

If the lines of effective communication are open, people never feel dispensable under a good leader. When a workforce feels secure, loyalty and productivity ensue. Ask candidates to explain how they have communicated difficult deci-sions to those around them; a skillful leader should be able to demonstrate that they can handle push-back effectively.

Seeking out leaders

Recruiting a great leader can mean the difference between stagnation and success, between a motivated workforce and one overshadowed by low morale. Great leaders are in demand by employers because they embody growth, security and success.

It takes time, care and expertise to separate the leaders from the bosses, but it’s worth it. After all expenses are deducted, a leader will always increase revenue and themselves produce, recruit and retain the leaders of tomorrow.

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