That’s a BIG question, isn’t it?
So big that there are thousands and thousands of books, articles, posts, podcasts, videos, and e-books that have tried to tackle it.
And what have we learned?
We’ve learned that while there are many paths to greatness, in the end, there is a consensus on several must-dos that every leader has to keep in the forefront of their minds (or pinned on their bulletin board, or better yet, both).
I saw the need for these must-dos from my own first-hand experience as a leader – without them, I couldn’t be effective. I couldn’t LEAD.
What are they?
1) Establish Two-Way Trust – Much is said about the need to have your teammates trust you; indeed, that is critical, and a considerable amount of time and effort must be spent earning it. But just as important is the need for you to trust your teammates. It starts with good hiring, focused and timely training and coaching, and letting go of any tendency to micromanage.
2) Be Consistent in Your Leadership – Nothing unsettles a team more than a scattered leader. You need to be the same person, every minute of every working day – in your words, actions, and tone. A leader cannot play favorites, or change priorities on a whim, or be unapproachable on one day and backslapping the next. In the workplace, you really don’t want to keep ‘em guessing.
3) Inspire Them to Aspire – We all know that leaders should inspire. but there’s more to it than that. Inspiration should go well beyond just “doing a great job”. It should deliver to the team the aspiration to grow, to learn, to rise to higher levels of achievement, and to become part of something bigger than themselves.
To put these must-dos in perspective, imagine yourself as a staff employee, in a workplace without mutual trust, consistent leadership, or any real inspiration to aspire.
I bet you’ve probably been in one of those workplaces sometime in your career (I certainly have, and if you haven’t, consider yourself one of the lucky ones). It’s not a pretty picture.
What does it take to be a great leader?
Tackle those must-dos, and then knock it out of the park with an awesome team!
(My grateful thanks to John Duffy, CEO of 3C Interactive, for the impetus to write this post by giving us his own personal perspective on the must-dos in a recent piece in the New York Times)
(Photo by Bigstock)