Are you a leader? John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Ok, so you are a leader, but are you a great leader? What skills must a leader possess to qualify for greatness? We’ve identified 9 habits that are indicative of great leaders. How many can you identify in yourself?
Let’s face it; bad news is just, well, bad. It’s tempting to want to gloss over the hard, awful reality that things aren’t working as they should, or that what seemed like a great idea really isn’t. Sometimes, people in leadership seem as though they have blinders on when it comes to bad news.
A great leader, though, knows that by facing the hard stuff early on, it can clear the way for growth and success later. Instead of avoiding challenges and setbacks, great leaders use them as a refining tool to make the end result better.
Seek out the problems and deal with them head-on.
To create an effective team, individuals must carry their share of the weight. Great leadership not only holds the team accountable for completing their given assignment, it encourages individual accountability.
Regular engagement with the people involved in a project allows for greater productivity, as well as increased accountability. Any problems that come up will be easier to identify and correct, and the overall project will be more successful as a result.
It’s fun and easy to celebrate the success of a project. But a great leader knows that before the big win, there were a lot of little, often overlooked successes along the way.
It’s the collection of the little wins that make the big one possible. Identify the small wins, study how they happened and then work to recreate them.
Create a plan that includes strategic, actionable processes and then put the plan into play.
Cultivate an environment that focuses on winning strategies. Identify the strategies that have been successful in the past, and duplicate them. Empower employees to find innovative methods to reach the company goals, and then support their efforts.
By adhering to the plan for success, leaders are not chasing after every new idea, but focusing on the ones that move the company towards its goals.
Letting go of an idea or a process can be hard. Even more difficult is an idea that has already become vested in time and money.
Many leaders refuse to admit that something isn’t working and keep trying to make it a success. This can be true of an employee that just isn’t cutting it, a marketing campaign that fell flat or a new product that didn’t meet expectations.
Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, owner of Tesla Motors, said:
“One lesson I learned is to fire people faster. That sounds awful, but I think if somebody is not working out, it’s best to part ways sooner rather than later. It’s a mistake to try too hard to make something work that really couldn’t work.”
Great leaders cut their losses early and move on.
The horror stories of the boss who steals people’s ideas and then basks in the glory are unfortunately all too true. Understanding how to treat employees as an integral part of the team is another key leadership skill.
Without the team, the process doesn’t work. Find ways to motivate employees to work towards success by demonstrating appreciation for their efforts.
The adage, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know when you’ve arrived,” is especially true in business.
Setting goals is important in working towards success. A defining characteristic of a great leader is their ability to set incremental goals to help achieve the larger successes.
Setting milestones allows the process to be constantly evaluated for success. Changes can be made along the way, making the likelihood of success greater.
There is a difference between consistency and complacency. Consistency is the repetition of a process over a period of time. Complacency is settling in at a particular level of achievement.
Truly great leadership recognizes the value of consistency, while refusing to become complacent. By implementing new strategies, taking new risks and upping the ante, leaders can encourage growth while maintaining a standard of excellence.
Never settle for being average.
Many business leaders hold weekly status report meetings. These sessions can easily become a meaningless exercise that gets bogged down in status quo.
Instead of having a reporting session where employees simply give a status, hold tracking sessions where there is an opportunity to provide feedback on plans. Without the pressure of reporting that everything is going according to plan, team members can identify problems early and make adjustments as needed.
Frequent tracking sessions offer great leaders the opportunity to adjust, encouraging or eliminating tasks that are not moving towards the corporate goals.
There is a distinct difference between leaders and great leaders. Great leaders not only focus on improving their company, they focus on improving their interpersonal skills. How can you add these skills to your leadership toolbox?