Too often leaders in business are expected to be brilliant mentors, visionary, financially aware, sales savy, gripping presenters, strategic thinkers and much more in a long list of attributes. It’s near on impossible to be all of those things wrapped up in one neat package as a leader. However, socially, that is typically the perception when you pick up a magazine or read a blog article relating to a business success story.
The most effective leaders are those that have a great self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses. They focus on their strengths and surround themselves with quality people to cover their weaknesses. Be careful of the trap of trying to be all things to all people and get clear on your strengths for the year ahead.
“Leaders become great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others”
~ John Maxwell
Good leaders are followed, not because of the skills they possess, but rather because they are trusted and respected.
When we look at what differentiates leadership from management, we could say that strong leadership is driven by behaviour (trust, the ability to inspire, attitude, decision-making, and personal character) and strong management is driven by processes (efficient planning, strong organisational skills, effective communication).
In his book ‘Jack: Straight from the Gut’, Jack Welch, respected business leader and writer proposes the following fundamental leadership principles:
• There is only one way – the straight way.
• It sets the tone of the organisation.
• Be open to the best of what everyone, everywhere, has to offer; transfer learning across your organisation.
• Get the right people in the right jobs – it is more important than developing a strategy.
• An informal atmosphere is a competitive advantage.
• Make sure everybody counts and everybody knows they count.
• Legitimate self-confidence is a winner – the true test of self-confidence is the courage to be open.
• Business has to be fun – celebrations energise an organisation.
• Never underestimate the other guy.
• Understand where real value is added and put your best people there.
• Know when to meddle and when to let go – this is pure instinct.
As a leader, your main priority is to get the job done, whatever the job is. Leaders make things happen by:
• Knowing your objectives and having a plan how to achieve them
• Building a team committed to achieving the objectives
• Helping each team member to give their best efforts
To be a great leader and successfully know how to direct a team, you must know yourself. Identify your own strengths and weaknesses, so that you can build the best team around you.
Further reading: Leadership succession planning – developing tomorrow’s leaders today