Leadership of small or large organisations can require the leader to be aware of multiple aspects of the business such as marketing, sales, production, management, HR, administration, accounts and more. And each of these aspects are pivotal to the success of the organisation!
Yet at the heart of leadership are people because it is employees who will perform the tasks of marketing, sales and more. Even in a small one person business you are dealing with people like contractors, suppliers and customers.
So leaders who have a mindset that 'people are important' will more easily and effectively lead their teams and have a greater impact on their results. They are the leaders others follow!
What sets these leaders apart? What are the characteristics of these leaders?
- Insatiable desire to Learn - good leaders have a hunger for knowledge and understanding and are eager to share their knowledge with others. These leaders learn from their mistakes and help others to do the same without blame. A famous example of this is the story about Tom Watson of IBM, who reportedly asked if he was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost IBM $600,000. He said, 'No, why should I fire him? I just spent $600,000 training him!'
- Committed to Developing people - good leaders always bring out the best in others, even when the person cannot see it in themselves. They are good coaches and have the ability to develop people's strengths and move them to positions where they can use them effectively. They constantly encourage others to learn and develop themselves
- Willingness to Listen - good leaders are able to listen without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.
Truly listening to what is being said, not what you think is being said! This comes from an awareness and respect that there are different experiences, interpretations and understandings in every person.
- Ability to ask Questions - good leaders use questions to send the signal that you have been listening and are interested. Questions help the leader to stay focused and bring attention to the other person, how they are thinking and can challenge the information they have shared. Naturally how the questions are delivered is crucial and good leaders develop their ability to ask great questions.
- Treat everyone Differently - good leaders understand that no one is the same and so don't treat them the same. They understand that the biggest investment in an employee is in training them to a level of competency where they can be left to manage on their own. And then letting go so that they can make mistakes and learn from this process. It's the same as learning to ride a bike which requires assistance with balance and momentum so that when the rider has decided to have a go themselves, the parent lets go . The time this takes will vary with every person.
Leadership provides the structure for people to reach their fullest potential and leaders who can achieve this in their business will be rewarded with consistently better results!