What makes a great leader?

On the 8th June 2017, Britain goes to the polls, to decide who is going to captain our ship through the potentially treacherous and murky waters of post-Brexit EU. Who knows, it could be a pleasure cruise, but either way it is going to need a skilled hand on the tiller.

Unsurprisingly then, the main battleground for campaigning appears to be that of leadership. Regardless of where you stand in this party political debate, the question of who will make the best Prime Minister is looming large.

Who shouts loudest?

So, what is it that makes a great leader? History proves that it is not about physical prowess or a larger than life demeanour; Franklin Roosevelt was paralysed in both legs after contracting polio, but still guided America out of the Great Depression and World War II. Napoleon Bonaparte was 5ft 6 (1.68m), and Mahatma Ghandi was not exactly the Alpha male, powerhouse that some people think makes a good leader. In fact it was Gandhi’s lack of ego and his policy of non-violent but unwavering resistance that empowered the people of India and changed the nation forever.

Being a great leader is not about who shouts loudest, or who dishes out orders with the most authority, it is about something far more subtle and, actually, much more attainable.

Evolution of leadership styles

Leadership technique have changed a lot over the years in line with the rest of our societal norms, moving from more authoritarian, autonomous styles to more participatory ones. Much more carrot and much less stick. Modern leadership is more collaborative and involves taking on people’s ideas and incorporating good ones into the plan. Being able to do this would have been seen as a weakness 20 years ago, but now it is recognised as a fundamental leadership strength. Being open to ideas allows you to benefit from the wealth of different skills and experience around you, whilst still ultimately making the final decision.

Great leadership is about so many different things, but here is a quick check list of pointers:

  • inspiring enthusiasm not fear
  • saying “we” instead of “I”
  • being consistent, and leading by example
  • praising people honestly and genuinely – reward success!
  • telling them straight away and constructively, when they don’t get it right
  • listen to your workforce and take their good ideas on board
  • be someone people follow because they want to, not just because they have to

Are you the great leader that you could be?

How do you see yourself as a leader? Do you aim to inspire? Do you actively look for the potential in people and then work to unlock it? Do you take less credit and shoulder slightly more blame than you deserve? Do you have clear goals and lead by example? Can you delegate, or do you feel the need to do it yourself because you can’t trust anyone?

If you answered no to any of the above, don’t be hard on yourself, just start doing it – today!

Confidence in your ability allows you to let your workforce to shine

The great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said “ When the best leader’s work is done, the people say we did it ourselves”. How many of us are really humble enough to implement that one?! However, if you are, then you truly have created an empowered workforce that believes it is capable of anything you throw at it. That kind of workforce is the kind that will drive your business forward, and enjoy themselves while doing it.

Deal With It can help you discover what kind of leader you are and help you become the one you desire to be. Our one day interactive workshop will help you to understand your organisational strengths and weaknesses and how to maximise your skills to keep your staff safe.

After all, in the words of John. F. Kennedy:

“leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”