Imagine a situation for a moment where you are the undisputed leader. Now your thoughts have become strategy, your words are inspiring people and your plans are inspiring great execution across – everybody in your team knows what to do, everyone accepts everyone, and results are simply flowing in. Things are just happening – there is no conflict and with results for all to see (and you are even able to go to bed, putting your worries to sleep). How many a manager and leader would wish such a utopian situation would come true for him/ her. Not to overlook, many followers too, would more than welcome such a situation. The reality mostly though is to the contrary – when larger the teams, larger the organization and string in some competition, what you have in your daily work life, is nothing short of chaos, stress, fatigue, confusion and failures – and personal life too bordering on fear/ insecurities around job and family well being. Good results if and when, is more a happenstance/ lucky coincidence, and if anything, not repetitive. For most managers, leaders and followers, such daily situations are fraught with struggles, long hours of elusive meetings and groping for that magic light to just arrive and show the way. And this is where true leaders or leaders in the making, step in or just arrive…. to lead. For, s/he (the leader) knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
Predictably then there is something that leaders do and that there is an lcm set, no matter what the industry and what the situation is – that gets ascribed to/ as ‘Leadership Traits’. What are these common traits that go to define what leaders do? Much has been researched, written and shared on this domain and yet, much is still being understood. Data and evidence of proven leaders seems to suggest there are 4 common traits however. As follows;
- Leaders foremost create a culture of trust. Anything or any leader that deviates from this is in the domain of politics and/ or management. Leaders recognize trust is invaluable for embracing a culture of leadership across the company. They work at all times with employees in open and honest ways to create trust. Trust is that magical ingredient when fostered well, eliminates doubt, fears and cynicism- all negative and detrimental behaviours. And, when/ where there is trust, willingness and voluntarily efforts galvanize to vanquish all and any of the numerous or insurmountable tasks. In effect leaders then emerge as positive at all times addressing concerns and resolving conflicts – for they speak the truth, lead from the heart and have rich moral fibre.
- Leaders communicate effectively at all times. Good business leaders (always) recognize the importance of sharing their vision/ mission/ goals and to remove fear from the management equation —.They strongly recognize ‘why’ and work to build alignment at all times, across ranks and functions. Great leaders leverage the power of company vision to show purpose and the big picture. They see this as their responsibility to inspire teams be it large or small businesses. In small businesses however, leaders have to wear many hats and have to communicate as both leaders and managers. Either way they inspire colleagues/ peers and others to take on the mission(s) or causes as their own, and to set high standards – at all times. Many an employee herein understands well, the difference between leadership, management and networking – and what great leadership really looks like. Some even start to reflect on the possibilities for themselves and the organization, should they choose to become a leader (and/ or will follow their leaders at all times no matter what (sun or rain/ fire or ice) – for they listen to everyone, build great teams and communities, and go deep diving on issues and challenges (pushing all personality and other non issues into the background to make them irrelevant)
- Leaders are invariably great at engaging employees. Leaders know the value of having shared objectives and everyone working towards the same objectives. They value critical aspects crucial for business owners to make them owners, custodians and achievers. In effect they value continuity and so prioritize employee growth and learning as part of this process. Accordingly they encourage key team members to stick on, than have them, contemplate how green the valley is on the other side? In small businesses this becomes even more crucial for the leader has a need to create high leverage systems (for cost and effectiveness reasons). Apropos, the leader impacts creating a high degree of engagement from all employees and making sure that everyone is working toward the same objectives – for they listen well to everyone, prioritize continuity and employees well being above all and give themselves away as servant leaders.
- Leaders above all come across as very demanding and impatient for results, for they truly believe and act in a manner suggesting time to be the most valuable resource. Leaders, core operating belief is nothing ever happens without action, and standing still at the same place is certain death. They drive teams to adopt best practices and facilitate the same as a structure to be followed – so teams can quickly acquire new and relevant skills, and in a way that’s proven to produce results. Leaders care for themselves too, commit themselves to excellence than perfection and above all are motivated to leave a legacy – For leaders, success is wonderful, but becoming significant is more motivating. So they seek to live in the hearts of the people around and to never die – adding value to everyone that they deal with.
In sum, what leaders do is to show the way and go the way (impossible or not) – for they seemingly know the way (better than most).