There is a funny saying, “if you are leading but no-one is following you, you’re just out for a walk”.
It’s so true though… gone are the days when respect came with the job title and ‘command and control’ was the acknowledged style of leadership of the time. Today we turn to our leaders for inspiration, motivation, alignment of values, the ability to articulate a vision and strategy.
Here are 7 behaviours I have observed in great leaders.
1. Great leaders have high energy – but there’s a distinction between being energetic and being ‘over carbonated’ (like a fizzy drink). A strength over-used can often become a weakness so finding that balance is key to becoming a great leader.
2. Great leaders are not stagnant, they are always re-calibrating, reading the situation, modifying their behaviour to suit the situation by asking “How can I do this better?”
3. Great leaders have developed their social/relationship skills. Many smart people can often fail, not because they aren’t smart enough, or good or deserving, but because they weren’t taught to build relationships.
Great leaders know that in a competitive environment where you are offering the same product or service as others in your market, good client relationships and a service culture are sometimes the only difference between you and your nearest competitor. Social or interpersonal skills are rated very highly, in fact a Harvard study put those skills at 85% in terms of importance in the decision making to hire or promote a leader.
4. Great leaders think about where they want to go. They are clear about what they want and they ask for it.
They believe in themselves and what they deserve. They say “I am ready for the next assignment. I would like you to consider me.” When they want to be promoted they make the business case and show how they have or will add value to the bottom line.
5. Leaders know that great leadership is not always about their own climb up the career ladder– it must also be about supporting, inspiring people and influencing their people in a positive way along their career paths.
6. Great leaders are those who acknowledge the value of having strong female leadership. They know their organisation outperforms, on many levels, those that don’t appoint women in senior positions.*
7. Good leaders become great leaders by finding role models they admire. They look at the people in their industry/profession who are as successful as they would like to be – they watch and learn what they are doing, what they charge, how they are perceived, how they communicate, how they dress, how they strive to achieve, what they say about themselves, how they ‘give back’ to the community, who they are mentoring – and they model that.
*The “Women on Boards” study performed by MSCI is concrete in declaring the benefits of gender diversity. “Companies in the MSCI World
Index with strong female leadership generated a Return on Equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without,” the study states.