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What makes a Great Leader?

There are many articles written about leadership these days, some I skim over and get nothing from, others grab my attention and I’m glued. Usually the ones that grab my attention are those that have some aspect of scientific reference, after all, everything starts with science somewhere along the lines, doesn’t it?

So what makes a great leader? In my opinion, you need to have:

  1. Great self awareness
  2. Clarity on what success looks like and how you’re going to get there.
  3. Strong professional relationships with those influential to your success – your direct team – the one you lead and any others you’re part and
  4. Consistent time set aside for Investment in your development and the development of your team.

If you’re reading this, I’ve made the assumption that you’re a leader of a business or may desire to be a leader in the future.

If you’re a current leader, ask yourself, how’s your career or business going? Are you flying along, in flow, everything is lining up, sales are growing, costs in control, people happy, relationships strong?  Or are there constant challenges, one after the other, nothing quite going right, missing sales, struggling to get your people to stick around, move forward?

Well, if you’re in the first scenario, put your hand out in front of you, face your palm and lift it up to pat yourself on the back. Well done. you’re obv doing many things right.

If, however you’re in the second category and need some assistance, you’re not alone. Careers and business have and will continue to evolve at a pretty rapid rate and you too need to continue to evolve to ensure you’ve got constant clarity on what success looks like for you in your role and how you’re going to get there. If you haven’t invested in any Personal development or you’re still running a Strategy from even 2 years ago, it may be time to set some time aside to refocus and reflect.

Self Awareness is an absolute no brainer when it comes to being a great leader. If you’ve ever worked for a leader who lacked self awareness, you know what I’m talking about – the word frustration comes to mind. Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know – that’s ok. It’s when you think you know it all, yet your behaviours, decisions and results prove otherwise. The best way to create greater self awareness, is to get down and dirty with the science behind who you are and complete an Advanced DISC Profile. Click here to find out more about how to develop great self awareness.

Likewise, clarity is a key ingredient in success. Once you have clarity it enables you to prioritise where you spend your time in order to make the greatest impact and have the greatest return. A success plan that you regularly check in to and have someone hold you accountable to, is a great place to start.

So what is a Success Plan? It’s a modern twist on the old skool Position/Job Description except it doesn’t list a long list of tasks to do, the language used is more aspirational. You actually write what success looks like aka  – You know you’ve been successful when…. you’ve delivered x % of growth YOY, when retention is sitting at y.

It really is quite a simple yet powerful tool. Once you’ve got clarity on what success looks like in your role, it will provide valuable transparency to your team with what you need to deliver to be successful and in turn what they need to deliver to assist the businesses success.

If you’re a CEO, you’d absolutely need clarity from the Board as to what success looks like, – it doesn’t have to be as straight forward as a Success Plan. By the Board reviewing whats been working, what hasn’t, where the business needs to go in order to be successful…… receiving feedback is a form of clarity. Either way, long or short term, you need to make sure you’re on the right track and not just turning up day after day going through the motions. You need to be moving forward and so does the business you’re part of. It sounds simple and I hate to say it, it really is. Clarity is key.

Clarity from your peers and/or your team is also incredibly valuable. If they have clarity on what success looks like for you in your role, it will help them have greater clarity in what they need to deliver to contribute to the success.

When they have clarity, there is no confusion and everyone can simply get on with what they need to deliver.

When it comes to Strong professional relationships with your peers and team, if you truely want to embrace a future of trust, respect and speed, there needs to be the culture of open and honest conversations where feedback is welcome, as it’s always given and received openly for the intention of improving a person, decision or outcome for the business.

Feedback delivered or received without having a strong professional relationship can do great damage. It can ruin relationships, cause people to get their backs up and actually hinder ongoing communications and actually back fire from the initial good intentions. So, before thinking everyone is going to be on board with your plan and purely wanting support and confirmation, be open to actually listening to what feedback they’re providing. Feedback whether we like it or not is a gift, what we choose to do with it is up to us. If we value the person giving it to us, we’re more than likely to listen, consider and act, but if we don’t value them, we’re more likely to disagree, ignore and not act which can also be a valuable mistake.

So how do you build strong professional relationships? Time, yes, but by also finding common values. When you have things in common with another person you feel you are like each other, get each other and are able to relate to each other more so than with someone whom perhaps you do not have as much in common with. However, by you continuing to invest in your own personal development you can continue to learn the art and science or personal excellence aka self awareness and emotional intelligence – the internal dividends it will pay, will be significant.

Most of us want the last tech in our lives, or at least tech that’s helping our lives become easier, by updating the way we as leaders operate -think, behave and execute, we too can lead more easily, with greater results, so what are you waiting for. Become the leader you’ve always wanted to be.