What does a leader truly look like?
When you think of what a leader looks like in your mind, is it a middle-aged man dressed in a smart suit and tie, holding a briefcase in one hand and shaking another man’s hand with the other?
In a lot of scenarios, this is actually the perception and if you do a quick Google search of the term ‘leadership’ you will see that this is largely what comes back.
The perception that to be a leader you have to wear a suit and a tie, that you have to look or dress a certain way, or that you have to be super professional all of the time and never let your guard down for some may be the view, but this is an old-school view that lives in the past.
Less is being a leader about the way that you look and dominate a situation, it’s now about the person that you are, showing up authentically, casting a vision, and empowering others to enhance their potential.
Let’s ditch the perception of what a typical leader looks like and focus on being the best leaders that we can be.
Today is about true leadership. Becoming a better version of ourselves as leaders, and inspiring others to become better leaders of their lives and businesses.
What does a leader look like?
A true leader is someone that has a vision, who can see the art of the possible, and can bring people together, inspiring and motivating them so that collectively they can make those visions a reality.
The way that you dress, the accent that you have, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, whether you’re a male or female, be you’re in your 20’s or in your 50’s, none of it defines you as a leader. Not in today’s world anyway!
Being a leader is about the type of person that you are.
The way that you drive and empower others to achieve their best and the way that you make and influence key decisions, are key parts of what makes you a good leader.
As a leader, you are someone who can use strategic thinking to create a view that people can rally around to make great things happen.
You don’t just talk the talk, you walk the walk, sometimes on your own, and other times right beside your teams.
You use soft skills to actively listen to your people and you understand what is happening ‘on the ground’.
You are open, honest, and not afraid of constructive feedback to help you improve and therefore, better improve the lives of your people.
You try new things, new approaches, new tactics, and new ways of thinking, not just for yourself but for your team.
The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails. — John Maxwell
The benefits of great leadership in business
Great leadership is fundamental to the success of a business as an entirety, not just within certain areas or departments.
With high-quality leaders in place, a business can combine so many varying strengths allowing them to minimise weaknesses with ease. Thus enabling them to flourish and achieve success across many areas.
Through great leadership, businesses can achieve better employee engagement by instilling confidence in their teams and boosting morale. In turn, this can reduce attrition rates, improve productivity levels, increase profits, and enable them to identify opportunities to be innovative and leverage market changes.
The 5 key characteristics of great leaders
There are many characteristics of great leaders, but here are just 5 key ones that I believe are fundamental.
As a great leader, you take responsibility not just for your performance, but for the performance of your teams.
When things are going well, you are more than willing to and do give praise to your team and those individuals that have contributed to your team's and business’ success.
When things are more challenging, you can quickly identify issues and problems, determine solutions to resolve these problems, and then get everything back running smoothly without too much hassle.
As a great leader, you know that you are personally responsible for the success or failure of your business. You know that if things go wrong you will be held accountable and it is up to you to make sure that in the event that something does go wrong, you are in the best position possible to resolve the situation quickly.
There is no blame-game necessary for a great leader.
Making decisions is part and parcel of being a leader.
As a great leader, you’re able to identify what decisions need to be made both in the moment and upcoming, seeking out the relevant insight and knowledge needed to determine and make informed decisions.
Being able to make these types of decisions confidently not only instills confidence within yourself but this is passed through to your team too.
Being committed and showing this commitment to those within your business helps to gain the buy-in and respect from others.
You wouldn’t expect your teams to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself and you show this to them.
You aren’t afraid of hard work and graft and have no problem getting stuck in to help your teams out when times get tough.
You’re committed to the success of the business, to the success of your teams, and to the success of your employees.
Being empathetic and understanding what your teams are thinking and feeling is something that you do without sometimes even realising it.
You want to know what is going off in their lives and have a vested interest in their ongoing development. You share their successes and help them to resolve problems.
You know that what is in the best interest of your teams, is in your best interests and you have no qualms about supporting your teams in whatever way necessary. To understand what is going off in their world, to help them, and to celebrate with them.
Leaders inspire others to do their best.
Uplifting and motivating your teams to do their best, to support the vision for the business and encouraging them through feedback, and thanks for being part of the journey.
Bringing out the best in people is something that motivates you to do better yourself. Helping and seeing others grow and develop into great leaders themselves is something that lights you up and empowers you as a leader to be the best that you can be.
These are just 5 key characteristics that help make a great leader, how do you align with them?
Maybe you feel that you already have all 5 and are doing great, that’s amazing.
Maybe, you know that there is room for improvement and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, we’re all on a self-development journey.