That is a question that not many business owners and executives ask themselves. Many of us know that we want to be entrepreneurs or executives but we rarely ask ourselves if we have what it takes to be a leader, outside of qualifications or experience.
And this is important because what a company stands for and to a large extent how it performs as a consequence, really is a reflection of the leadership.
Being a leader is not about being the most knowledgeable or the smartest as it is often understood. It is about being able to bring out the best in your people and inspire them to achieve their highest potential.
As American author Tom Peters says:
“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”
There are numerous articles outlining long lists of qualities of a good leader such as integrity, honesty, creativity, etc. While these are all important qualities, for any professional not just leaders,
I believe there are a few traits that are truly critical to actually being a leader.
One of our specialties here at Equita is executive training, we work with C-suite professionals, executives and business owners across various sectors everyday and based on what I see daily being a leader comes down to the following:
Being Calm & Gracious
People go into business thinking about the benefits of being an entrepreneur such as financial independence, freedom, lifestyle, etc. But they rarely think about the responsibility that being the boss implies. I’m not talking just about paying salaries but about the fact that as an executive or a business owner, you are the one setting an example for everybody.
So when you act in a way that people admire, they will strive to be more like you. But when you lose your temper and lash out at people, chances are you will lose their respect. And when this is the case, people won’t care what you preach.
So, regardless of how serious a mistake has been made or the difficulty your organisation may be facing, stay calm and gracious. Not only is this a quality that people admire but a great lesson too.
Any situation is better handled if you don’t panic and if you put your feelings aside.
Many people feel a leader should be someone hard to get to. Someone you can’t talk to, someone you put on a pedestal and treat as God-like. Consequently, people may be intimidated by or fear approaching this person.
Based on experience with executives and business owners, I know that in fact a true leader is someone who is authentic , open about their insecurities, honest about their mistakes and fears.
Allowing you to be honest about yours.
A leader is like a mentor. They should be able to put themselves in the shoes of others and demonstrate an attitude that people admire.
The third and perhaps the most important quality of a leader is being able to see the best in people and helping them see it too. Nobody is perfect and nobody is good at everything. Instead of dwelling on mistakes and focusing on what people are bad at or handled poorly, a leader shifts the focus to what people are good at and give them ideas on how they can improve in other areas.
A true leader is one that is positive and shows confidence saying things like “Of course you can do it, you’ve handled much harder tasks. ” or “Maybe you are not pleased with the result now but
I’m sure you will do great next time, it’s a learning curve”.
A leader shifts your focus from your weaknesses to your strengths with attitude that makes you believe you can do just about anything. And once you believe, you will do.
Leadership is not a title.
There are business owners and high position professionals that are just that but not leaders. They may have more knowledge, experience and skills but they don’t have the ability to inspire people. And that is the definition of a leader – somebody who inspires people to be the best version of themselves. This not only fosters personal and professional growth but consequently helps your organisation to thrive when driven by people who want to excel.
If you would like to know more about leadership, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, Margaret Considine. Here at Equita we are happy to help you transform your business and grow.