So what does it take to be a great leader in your business? Many would argue that you need a great skill set, and although important, the key factors are absolutely down to character
In all sectors, no more than the hospitality, ‘front of house’ is so important and teams learn from their leaders how to perform in that all-important role. The good news about leaders is that they are made, not born. Leaders are largely self-made as the result of continuously working on themselves over the years. So, what are the key character traits needed to be top of your game as a leader?
1. Willingness To Be Misunderstood
At some point, as a leader you will be misunderstood. People will comment about you behind your back or judge your motives wrongly. Leadership is a bit like parenting. You have to do the right thing even if it’s not the popular thing. Great leaders have forged enough character to overcome the incessant desire to be liked.
2. Show Your Flaws
You don’t need to be perfect! People don’t want to see polished, perfect lives because they aren’t real. They will learn more from you as a leader, by seeing how you deal with your flaws and how you have overcome challenges.
It takes courage to take risks. Leaders jump in, take risks and share the learning’s from their failures. You should not see failure as a negative but a massive learning opportunity which you can pass on and move forward.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King
3. Act with integrity
A great leader approaches life with integrity, honesty and authenticity. The moment you stop doing that, you start leading people down the wrong path. To become an effective leader you must earn the trust and confidence of others. Once trust is established, keep it, maintain it and guard it because it is a gift that should never be taken for granted. Actions speak louder than words. True leaders genuinely care about their people. It’s not always easy and takes some thinking, but it’s worth it for your business to be guided in the right direction.
I know from personal experience, that by being honest and imparting the full picture in a case where the business was struggling, employees felt as if they knew exactly what was happening. Frequent and clear communication through team meetings made sure they were not blindsided when tough decisions had to be made. They trusted and felt confident in the turnaround plan they were following as they had helped develop it. The result was outstanding!
4. Handle Success Better Than Failure
Knowing how to handle failure well is essential to success in leadership but knowing how to handle your success is harder and the ultimate test of a leader’s character!
Success naturally inflates your pride and it takes both great self-awareness and great self-control to not let the reports of your accomplishments go to your head.
The very best leaders remain humble, grounded and even self-deprecating. They don’t claim every perk of office and regularly help people who can’t help them back. They avoid self-focus and stay focused on the mission before them and before everyone.
5. Purpose & Perseverance.
Where are we going? How do we get there? Stick to what you stand for, get everybody on board. Don’t forget that you will have to face yourself and live with your decisions every day. Take a time-out right now and ask yourself: What’s my meaningful sense of direction for the company, with precise strategic goals that can be measured? Keeping up that direction and ensuring team buy-in takes great perseverance
6. Emotional Intelligence
You can be highly intelligent but if you don’t know how to handle tough conversations with sensitivity, you won’t last long with colleagues, employees or peers.
As a leader you should have a strong understanding of your emotions, what triggers an emotional reaction, and how those reactions can colour your beliefs, judgments, or actions. You can express clearly and consistently, to others, how you feel about a situation. Your body language is congruent with your words, and others don’t have to guess how you are feeling, or what mood you are in, or where you really stand on an issue or opportunity. You stand up for yourself and what you believe in. You take action as necessary, being appropriately swayed or affected by the well-being of those around you, but not avoiding a tough decision that needs to me made. Always consider the input of others, and factors that into your decision-making process, but stand on your own should the need arise.
7. A Willingness to Help People Who Can’t Help Back
If you’re not careful, the more successful you become, the more likely you will be to spend time only with those who can help you get to the next stage of whatever you’re trying to do.
The greatest leaders will resist this pull. It’s not that they won’t spend time with other people who are as successful as or more successful than they are. It’s that they will still spend time with people who aren’t. The greatest leaders regularly find time to help people who can’t help them back. Sure…they’re still strategic with their time, but they have a deep sense of grounding that reminds them that life is indeed about others, not just about them.
As Karren Brady OBE’s grandmother used to say, “Never look down on people unless you are helping them up’.
8. Positive Energy & Ambition
Of course, ambition is important and infectious! Having positive energy is uplifting, and the nice thing about this form of energy is that it is potentially abundant, renewable and free! Focusing on the good in any situation doesn’t mean you’re naïve, it means you don’t want to waste time on negative thinking. Taking the constructive approach – seeing what your options and resources are and making use of them fast – will always get you somewhere.
Becoming a great leader doesn’t happen overnight and has many other aspects. It’s a slow process that requires thought, discipline and lots of hard work. A little dose of humour helps, too.
Written by Julie Phillips (www.juliephillips.co.uk), a personal and corporate development coach and former CEO of a successful SME for 16years.