Making of a leader
Rajesh Pandit, CBRE Asset Services & Global Workplace Solutions, highlights a few traits of successful leadership.
A study, conducted by Dr Jack Zenger and Dr Joe Folkman, concluded “…poor leaders lost money; good leaders made profit; and extraordinary leaders more than doubled the company’s profits in comparison to the other 90%.” 1 Effective leadership can bring about significant progress for both employees and the company. But the question is how does a leader trace the path to become an exceptional one?
The need for good leadership in today’s dynamic corporate era is an imperative. We all look up to leaders at some point in our lives. I am not stating this from a business viewpoint alone, but in all aspects. But why do we need leaders? What have they got that has made them worth following? What are the unique traits that distinguishes them from the others?
‘Leaders are born’ has been proven a myth several times. In the constant result-oriented workplace we work in, companies are so preoccupied with chasing targets that they forget to invest in grooming and building good leaders. However, it is a proven fact that successful companies excel at building great leaders who help achieve greater results.
So what is leadership? According to the idea of transformational leadership, an effective leader is a person
2 who does the following: creates an inspiring vision of the future, motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
What makes a good leader? Leaders do not wait for other people to give them permission—they just do it and take responsibility. They make people feel they are at the centre of things, not on the periphery. A good leader makes his or her team feel that they contribute to the success of the organization.
But, it is no easy task to become a leader. The path to leadership requires finding one’s own way—and the direction one takes differs from one person to another. However, there are a few key traits we can focus on:
going beyond micromanaging
Creating a healthy working environment is heavily dependent on building an atmosphere of mutual trust between the manager and the employees. Managers should delegate and oversee from a distance. Micromanaging tends to be incredibly frustrating. Being treated as someone incapable and untrustworthy can affect organizational culture as well as employee morale. This could also make them rely too much on managers. It limits a person’s potential and takes away his or her thinking hat and ability to perform tasks independently. Conversely, it is best to offer people the autonomy to do their jobs and allow them to expand their capabilities and growth potential. Employees should be empowered with the capacity to own their decisions and take risks. Most importantly, they need managers to stand by them, not merely supervise them.
By being committed to helping each person achieve his or her personal goals, the leader sets the organization up for greatness. Leaders are good listeners—they listen to verbal and non-verbal cues to understand the organization’s pulse. This allows them to address problems before they become big issues.
As compared to managers, leaders invest in tasks and projects and demonstrate a high level of passion for their work. They also take interest in the success of their followers, enabling them to reach their goals which may not necessarily be the organization’s goals.
Creating a healthy working environment is heavily dependent on building an atmosphere of mutual trust between the manager and the employees.
taking risk and embracing failure
Infinite complexity, possibilities, and constant transformation characterize the 21st century. We are living in a VUCA environment in which organizations need to adapt their strategies to achieve the desired business results. The times demand the ability to take risks, embrace failure, and move on. It requires vision, collaboration, planning, and practice. But not everyone wants to be a leader. It requires being decisive and a willingness to take chances. And yes, to ‘fail’ and also to accept it, learn from it, and move on.
not just a face in the crowd
Crowds have no purpose and end up nowhere. It takes courage to stand out and be a true individual. This is the crucial defining trait of a leader: they do not follow the crowd. It is also the most difficult one, but then that is why success is so elusive and rare. Not all talent is equal. Leaders make decisions with conviction, which is in stark contrast to most people who either seek consensus or avoid responsibility. For them, ideas and dialog turn into action that is captured quickly and enacted upon. They bring in accountability that is both consistent and focused.
become a believer
When faced with problems and obstacles, the leader chooses to learn from the experience and turn them into opportunities. Yesterday’s defeats do not discourage
them. A good leader needs to pave the way and keep his or her emotions in check, especially in tough situations. Regardless of what is happening, it is important for them to guide a team through challenging times, boost their morale, and remain positive along the way. Team morale is heavily dependent on the leader’s attitude.
not fearing fear
So what is it that keeps us from pursuing opportunities, leading others, taking action, and doing what we really want to do? One word: fear—fear of rejection, fear of people, fear of trying new things, fear of not being perfect, etc. Therefore, if you want to be an exceptional leader, learn to conquer your fears.
An important part of the leadership model is what lies on the other side of the crucible—the qualities that define leaders and learners. The one key asset all our leaders share, whether young or old, is their adaptive capacity. The ability to process new experiences, find meaning in them, and integrate them into one’s life, is the signature skill of leaders and, indeed, of anyone who finds ways to live fully.
While the world continues to change, the fundamental traits of leaders remain constant. When leaders lead, great things are possible. As Archimedes reportedly said, “Give me a lever long enough and I will move the earth.” A good leadership, applied to your business, is the ultimate leverage. ■
The ability to process new experiences, find meaning in them, and integrate them into one’s life, is the signature skill of leaders.
01 https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackzenger/2015/01/15/great-leaders-can-double-profits-research-shows/#4f7eb0a36ca6 02 Leadership expert James MacGregor Burns introduced the concept of transformational leadership in his 1978 book, Leadership