What makes a great a leader in today’s world?
A lot of us picture a leader that can do it all. A confident, all-knowing person whose decisions benefit all those he protects. Ah yes, it does sound like a description fit for the great leaders from the days of yore (General George S. Patton, anyone?). The aspiring leaders of today have to be more equipped with qualities they can use to deal with different problems that come their way. So what does it take to become a great leader in the 21st century, and what are the commitments you must make?
If you want to become a great leader, you must commit to never stop. Whether it be trying to reach a company goal, a sales quota, a monthly deadline, a report, or whatever kind of adversity that stands in your way, you must commit to keep going. What can you use to fuel this unending drive? Your passion – your love for your craft will propel you through adversity, on your way to success and it will make you strive for greater achievements.
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.
Great leadership is a joint effort between you and the people you command. A great leader is someone who maintains a consistent and meaningful communication between his staff, gives recognition and praise to those who deserve it while providing constructive feedback, mentorship and training to those who need it. On the emotional side of things, you must also learn to empathize with people. Great leaders have the skill to connect with people emotionally and this is what makes them unforgettable. Your purpose as a leader is to create and nourish an environment of openness and understanding without appearing to be judgmental.
Great leaders have a heart for people. They take time for people. They view people as the bottom line, not as a tool to get to the bottom line.
Being courageous means that you are willing to take risks for the achievement of your goals, even when there is no assurance to success. There is no certainty in life as there is no certainty in business. Because of this, your commitments and the decisions you make will come with a risk of some kind. Fear has made businesses stagnant and sadly, this eventually led to their failure. You must learn to confront reality head-on and by knowing the current state of your business, you are able to lead your team to a better place. Don’t be afraid to say what needs to be said. True conversations tend to be uncomfortable especially when there’s conflict involved but having these clear, crucial conversations will make it faster to move through the issues and get the problem solved faster. Being courageous is also the most obvious of traits that everyone can identify.
Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.
Having complete honesty in everything that you do in your business both internally and externally will greatly affect those around you. The center of integrity is truthfulness. Integrity pushes you to be honest in every situation. This is the foundation where you can build trust amongst your team. Trust is always necessary for the success of any business. Trust also plays a big role in doing business with others and getting people to believe in what your business or organization stands for. People want to work for a leader that they can trust with. Having integrity doesn’t only mean you have to be honest to others, it also means you have to be ruthlessly honest to yourself. Until you have reached the pinnacle of success, you must consider yourself as a work in progress and continue to seek guidance to discover and work around your blind spots.
The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.
While learning to be strong and decisive, you must also commit to learning how to stay humble. Being humble doesn’t mean you are a weak leader or unsure of your decisions, it means that you have the confidence and awareness to recognize the value of your peers without feeling threatened. This means that you are willing to admit that you may be wrong about a decision that you recently made and that you recognize that you may not have all the answers. Your team will love the fact that you give credit where credit is due. In times, you may want to control everything to show how great of a leader you are but sometimes it is also as important to admit that you don’t have the best answers and are willing to let the team come up with theirs. This promotes great macro-management that gets everybody involved.
Leadership is being bold enough to have vision and humble enough to recognize achieving it will take the efforts of many.
So what makes a great leader in the 21st century? They are those who are preparing themselves, not for the comfortable predictability of yesterday. They are the courageous ones who never stop preparing for the realities of today. They gain the trust of their peers through their integrity and will always motivate them to face the unknown possibilities of tomorrow. Commit now and be the great leader this lifetime deserves.