In my view, leadership is one of, if not the most critical attribute in successful organisations. Businesses who can not only survive, but thrive in tough environments, and continue to exist beyond the lifetimes of their founders and their original dream team, must, by their nature have great leaders., without that they are surviving in spite of themselves and will ultimately fail to continue.
Importantly, leadership is not a position, or term of rank within any business. Great leaders can be found at any level, in any role. Leadership is not a title. Put simply, leadership is the ‘art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal’ it could be directing, but that’s really managing, for me leading is about inspiring others to take action, by setting the example and the tone for ‘how things are done around here’. Great leaders have people follow them not because they have to, but because they want to, not because of what they do and say, but because of how they show up, act, speak and conduct themselves.
Needless to say, for the senior people in any business, having strong leadership skills is an attribute you should absolutely be looking for, either in the hiring process or to develop and foster throughout their careers.
Interestingly, those who are naturally amazing leaders tend to display similar behaviours, habits and practices both within and outside business, so let’s learn more about what it is that all successful leaders seem to have in common.
1: Great Leaders Build Great Teams
They employ the best people, those who know more than them, are smarter than them and excel in areas where they may not, because they understand the value that this brings to the wider team.
Simon Sinek says “the responsibility of leadership is not to come up with all the ideas but to create an environment in which great ideas can thrive”. So great leaders create environments for ideas and knowledge building to thrive.
2: Successful Leaders Display Exceptional Communication Skills
By this I mean they can communicate well, adapt to the situation and are able to reach people at their levels. Leaders who do this well are also exceptional listeners, they seek first to understand, they ask genuinely curious questions.
In addition, they don’t make excuses, they confidently own their decisions, and hold themselves accountable.
3: They Value and Invest in Self Development
The best leaders are always looking to grow, develop and learn. They understand the importance of investing in their own personal development. They challenge themselves daily in all different ways, some may be business related, and other personal. You might see them training for a marathon, competing in sports, perfecting an art, investing time in the practice of meditation, all of these things because of their desire to invest in their own development and push themselves further.
4: These are Purpose Driven People
Think of the most successful and influential leaders you have come across. Is there one you can think of who didn’t have a clear vision, purpose or greater good goal? They are driven by a clear purpose which makes all the busyness focused and intentional, meaning they can achieve greater things.
5: Leaders are Goal Setters
Following on from the above point, successful leaders are also strong goals setters. They set goals to achieve their purpose and have a deliberate and intentional way of moving towards this. They set both personal and business goals, to create clear pathways to achieving what they desire. This requires focus, which is another key attribute of successful leaders.
6: The Best Leaders Surround Themselves with the Right People
Jim Rohn famously said “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with” and great leaders get this, and do what they can to surround themselves with people who lift them up, pus them further, inspire, motivate and teach them. They actively seek out mastermind and mentoring opportunities and relationships and really tap into these networks they create.
7: They are Lifelong Learners
Most often we hear about great leaders being prolific readers, and I think often this is the case. However more broadly they are lifelong learners. Whether it be through reading, listening, doing or creating, the constant curiosity to learn and know more is common amongst all great leaders.
8: Amazing Leaders Practice Gratitude
This might sound all a little ‘odd’ and ‘airy fairy’ but you can bet that all the best leaders you look up to practice this in some way. Whether through journaling, meditation or some other form of practice they very deliberately and intentionally weave this into their day. They reflect on and consider what they have to be thankful for.
On top of this they are also incredibly generous, and will often spend time mentoring others, giving back to the community, devoting time to charities and causes which are important to them and generously lending their skills, knowledge and expertise to those they can serve.
9: Successful Leaders Prioritise Self Care
Naturally this looks different for each individual, but all great leaders make their self care a priority. Whether it be eating well. exercising, going to the gym, playing sports, meditating, doing yoga, having great sleep habits or anything else, they value taking care of themselves.
10: Leaders have Courage
It is undeniable that it takes courage to lead. Great leaders take action even when it’s scary, they face fear and are comfortable to shatter the comfort zone and status quo when it’s required, because they know that this is where growth happens.
With courage comes vulnerability and the very very best leaders have the courage to be vulnerable. In her 2012 TED talk Brene Brown defines vulnerability “as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty….and I’ve come to the belief … that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.”
Of course the list could go on, but these are some of my favourite key attributes that successful leaders share.
An invitation to join a thriving business community:
If you’d like to connect with other business owners, leaders and managers to share your favourite leadership habits, or join the conversation about great leadership, I’d love you to join us inside our Facebook Group – HR Support for Australian Businesses.
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