Every business or organisation needs a great leader. Someone who can get the job done for themselves and inspire others to do the same is rare. A leader first has to be able to manage and lead themselves before they can lead others. Many people go through life in an institutionalised fashion, following instruction from the authorities and refusing anything that doesn't match. These people are not good leaders, through no fault of their own, they don't have the mental capacity to break from their societal grooming. We are all programmed to a certain degree by the surroundings we grow up in and the people who raise us. Some of us, for some reason or other, never really take it on board fully. Some people just can't be shepherded or led, even when those doing the leading have the best intentions! These are the leaders, the ones who, if they can get over their sense of the personal, can become great leaders.
But what is it that makes a good leader? After-all, some people are just sure of themselves and wrong. Some people are so convinced of their correctness that they will go to great cruelties to make sure their opinions fly. Others are just unable to treat people with the respect they deserve. A good leader has brilliant people skills as well as brilliant management skills. Leaders don't nurture resentment or fear, they don't get cross with others, they remain calm and focussed on the issues themselves.
Here are some dualities that great leaders demonstrate when in charge of inspiring groups of people.
Great leaders have their house in order. They don't just focus on work and other people's order. To be able to stand in a position of influence, we have to show that we are using our wisdom in our own life and it is working. We don't want advice from a homeless person unless it's about how to survive on the streets. This is an extreme example but the general formula is true for any case. Show authority by living it. Let go of work and targets, loosen the grip on the office and get busy with getting your life in order. At least from time to time.
Great leaders understand responsibility for error and for success. When someone makes a mistake or doesn't pull their weight, a leader will act on this. They will have a chat with the worker to find out what is troubling them or what it is they haven't understood. When someone isn't giving their all, it's usually because they're unhappy. It's a leader's job to make sure the work force is happy. But a great leader also knows when someone is doing all they can to get the result. They reward this and celebrate effort. A good leader is not all tooth and nail, but smile and handshake too.
Great leaders follow the guidelines and adapt them for specific purpose. Guidelines are important, they ensure quality every time. They ensure that paying customers get the service they asked for. However everyone is different and everyone has their own thinking behind what they want. A great leader will see when the guidelines have been limiting what is achievable and they will adapt them for the required purpose. Looking at the computer, sucking in some air, and saying “I don't think we can stretch to that” is not leadership.
Great leaders give concrete targets with room for initiative. It's important everyone is on the same page and is working towards the same goal. A leader can build a mental image for the whole team as to what it is they are working towards. They can describe the company personality and encourage workers to follow the guidelines to make sure they fit the theme. However, leaders know we're all unique people with different ways of thinking. They recognise when someone takes the initiative and works in their own way, as long as the targets are met on every turn it really doesn't matter.
Great leaders force innovation by encouraging imagination. We need to be innovative in order to make our way in the world. To get to a point where people want to pay us for doing a job, we have to find problems to solve and solutions to them. This requires a lot of creative thinking and it's vital to provide something unique and practical in order to stand out. All this pressure can make it really hard to think. Stifled by responsibility, we tend to fall into the tried and tested mindset. It's safer. This means leaders have to encourage and tease out the loose, creative, and sometimes wacky ideas that hide behind the prefrontal cortex.
Great leaders gel values rather than overwrite them. Company or team values make sure everyone is working on the same quality level and that clients and customers always get the same level of service. These values are shared by the group and have to be applied by all. This doesn't mean that individuals don't have their own values. Great leaders understand their workforce or team members and their personal values. They work to include and link these ideas and ethics to those of the whole, showing that when tied in, they all point in the same direction. Often, it's just a matter of explaining psychology or business academics for the notion to make more sense.
Great natural leaders still need to learn how to lead. You don't know until someone tells you, even if you're naturally great at something. Think of a computer with no software. It's perfect for running Windows, it's even got the little sticker that says so. But without the installation, it won't run anything. You still need to program your head to think in the ways leaders think in order to be a truly great leader. You've just read this blog post, why not go one step further and subscribe to Lucid Leadership, a weekly leadership journal by Alternative Fruit editor Rowan Colver. You can learn in your own time.
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Rowan Blair Colver for Alternative Fruit
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