5 Ways to Be a Great Leader

February 5th, 2017

“Those that help plan the battle, don’t battle the plan.”

Although Google couldn’t tell me who to attribute this gem to, it remains one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned about leadership.

Like many of you, I fell into management because there was a void to fill when someone left the organization (by choice or by force), and we were there to pick up the pieces. Lucky for me, the company I worked for invested in training for the management newbies. The battle analogy was one of the lessons I learned that has stayed with me forever.

In addition to the investment of training, there was a concerted effort by my previous employer to give voice to all leaders in the company to help determine goals. I learned as a young professional that my thoughts, ideas and input were valued. Even in times when my direction wasn’t selected, the open dialogue and discussion around the concepts gave me valuable learning opportunities. Because I helped plan the battle, I didn’t battle the plan.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the way leadership is done in many organizations. I truly believe to be an effective leader, you should do the following:

  1. Foster leaders at all levels
    Just because somebody has manager or director or executive in their title, doesn’t mean they have a monopoly on all the great ideas. If leadership is only about who has authority over whom, you are missing enormous growth and opportunity for your company.
  2. Respect what came before
    Good leaders research, ask questions and listen to their colleagues before powering through change. Remember: Very smart and experienced professionals had reasons why they set up processes and systems the way they did. Respect their expertise and allow them to explain to you why they do what they do.
  3. Have integrity
    “Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey
    Make no mistake, if you aren’t a person of high integrity, you won’t be a leader. It won’t take long for staff to realize when you aren’t acting with integrity, and they will lose respect for you.
  4. Communicate
    This one is a doozy, and oftentimes leaders think they are communicating. Although there are many facets of communication that we could cover, suffice it to say everyone in the organization from the CEO to the entry-level clerk needs to fully understand the organization’s goals and the way they can personally contribute to achieving them. A leader builds bridges of understanding between different groups in an organization by facilitating dialogue.
  5. Focus on what, not how
    True leaders set the stage for expectations and goals, but they allow employees to determine how they will get there. When a leader trusts and believes in the abilities of employees to get the job done without interference by management, truly great things will happen. Leaders should be there for guidance and support when called upon, but they shouldn’t micromanage the process. We truly are better together when we collaborate.

There are some amazing leaders who were born with a character that made leadership come easy to them. However, I believe anyone can learn the qualities of great leadership with a little training, guidance and practice. If you want to enhance your leadership skills, contact me today to set up a 15-minute consultation to learn how I can help.

Tell us about a great leader in your life and what they have done to inspire you.