Each one of us is a leader in our own way. Whether we lead an organization as a CEO,as a head of business unit, lead a group of people or our own families…we are all leaders in one form or another. Continuous improvement of individual leadership qualities helps us and our team to deliver better results and improved performance or achieving personal goals. As a leader,if we are able to motivate and positively influence our team, the respect we gain from the people around us is immense and our influence within the organization or people will keep growing.
I have been in various leadership positions over the past two decades and worked in different countries, worked with people from different nationalities and cultures. During these years I have learned the difference between being a good leader and being an ineffective leader. I believe some leadership qualities are gifted by God to individuals and most of the qualities are developed as we go along. I’ve been very fortunate in my career to have worked with some of the most talented leaders in the Industry. I have been inspired by many great people and through observing them I learned the qualities of good leaders whose example I sought to follow.
In this article I would like to highlight two key aspects of leadership:
1. Key qualities of a good leader
2. What represents success for a Leader, Team and Organization?
Some of the key qualities of a good leader who can translate the Vision into Reality are:
• Core values: A good leader is the one who respects core values such as honesty, integrity and respect for others, which underpins all the work he or she does. He/she values the rules of the game and abides by it, regardless of the circumstances. True leaders communicate their values with the people they lead, creating an atmosphere of certainty and trust. By emphasizing these standards, and leading by example, a leader will hopefully influence the office environment into a friendly and helpful workspace.
• Communication: You as a leader need to communicate the business goals and roles and responsibilities of the people around you very effectively. Knowing what you want to accomplish may seem clear in your head. However, if you try to explain it to someone else and are met with a blank expression, you know that there is a problem. If this has been your experience, then you may want to focus on improving your communication skills. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.
• Teamwork and Commitment: If you, as a leader expect your team to work hard and deliver quality results, you need to lead by example. By demonstrating your commitment to the organization and the vision that you have outlined, you will not only earn the respect of your team, but will also instill that same hardworking energy among your staff. It’s important to show your commitment not only to work, but also to your promises made to the staff. You want to create a reputation for not just working hard, but also is known as a fair leader who supports work-life balance. You want to keep your team motivated, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing work-related support, personal advice, or even just an occasional outing, remember that everyone in your team is a human being. Some people work well under pressure, others don’t. In order to optimize your effectiveness as a leader, you must have the ability to customize your approach on a person by person basis, based on the situation.
• Delegate and Deliver: The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them. Find out what each team member enjoys doing the most and if they find the task more enjoyable, they will likely to put more thought and effort behind it. Do not micro manage but support the staff when needed. This will not only prove to your team that you trust and believe in them, but will also free up your time to focus on the strategic tasks, that you cannot delegate. Be firm on your team delivering a quality product on time and do not accept any sloppy approaches. It’s a fine balance, but one that will have a huge impact on productivity.
This brings me to my second point: What represents success for a Leader, Team and the organization?
• Every organization’s goal is to deliver outstanding business results and in turn offer good returns to the shareholders and employees. Whilst these performance dimensions cut across industries, the importance they attach to short term vs longs term issues (including investment on staff development) depends on the organization’s strategic priorities. The senior leaders play an important role in shaping the organization’s business strategy and the importance they attach to the staff development. In the changing business environment and globalization, a strategic vision and a global perspective are critical to effective leadership. This is where some of us Indians need to enhance our skills in seeing the wider global picture in order to compete with the global leaders. Leaders, who can motivate their staff and involve them in the business improvement processes, can truly help to deliver outstanding results. Great leaders also inspire others by building a sense of urgency and having assertiveness and courage. At the same time celebrate success with the team members and share the benefits as set out in your business plans. That will inspire them to do even more.
• As leaders we all are bound to make mistakes. A few years back, I attended a presentation by an outstanding businessman and he said “As a leader, if you can make six right decisions consistently out of ten, you can be considered as a successful leader.” However, you need to be careful enough not to repeat the same mistakes but learn from them; and that in itself is an achievement. In fact, we learn less from successes than we do from failures.
About the Author:
R Santosh Kumar, is a Project Management Consultant and has been working for a major International Oil Company, for 35 years in USA, Russia and Middle East.