What is a great leader? There have been literally hundreds of books on the subject and numerous conferences on leadership so the answer should be on the tip of our tongues.
However, it seems that everyone has a different view on what makes a leader great, and perhaps because leaders are all in many ways so different, there can never be one single definition.
However, in my experience, there are three common qualities that I have noticed in all leaders that, in my view, make them great.
Great leaders want to change the world
Great leaders have a desire to change the world and make it better. The world is in a pretty chaotic state and we need great leaders in every realm of society, not least in business, to drive change that can ultimately |benefit all of us.
A great leader is someone who desires to do something greater than just improve the bottom line. They want to make the world better; better for the people who work for them, for the community around them and even society as a whole.
Through their integrity and commitment to quality, great leaders improve performance in not only their own teams and organisations, but also have a positive impact on us all by generating the economic growth the
economy so desperately needs.
As a leader, you have the power to create an environment where people love coming to work, where they feel valued, where their opinion matters, and where staff are empowered to make decisions and achieve things they never thought |possible.
You can make the world |better for others. Or you can choose to create an environment that is filled with tension and disengagement. What choice have you made?
Great leaders want to be redundant
Poor leaders want to be indispensable. They want to be considered so critical to the success of the business that even going on holiday will cause the company problems.
They love the fact that everyone waits in anticipation for their return so they can restore order to the company that has been shuddering in their absence.
Unfortunately this is poor leadership because they haven’t created a team that can function in their absence, or created systems and processes capable of running smoothly without their input. And if the truth be told... many leaders want it that way.
Chartered Management Institute research shows bureaucratic, secretive management styles are increasingly common, which means that managers haven’t empowered people to make decisions, haven’t delegated responsibilities, and haven’t invested in people development.
But it’s open, empowering, entrepreneurial styles — which the research shows growing companies are using — that we need more of. What bad managers fail to realise is that they are harming their business by failing to develop their staff.
Great leaders build capacity in the |organisation and |encourage others to up their game, to take on new responsibilities, to be creative, to make decisions and to create an environment in which they are effectively not needed.
This allows great leaders to think strategically and to focus on taking things to the next level. Do you as a leader want to be made redundant?
Great leaders are comfortable with their weaknesses
They almost love to talk about things that they are not good at. Yes, self-belief is important, but I would argue having bags of humility is even more important. Poor leaders tend to hide their weaknesses.
They want to give the impression that they know everything, that they need to be involved in everything and that their |opinion is all that matters.
Having humility means you accept you don’t have all the answers and you embrace those who do! Great leaders ask for help, seek the advice of wiser heads, and they don’t try to cover up mistakes. They are open and honest and regularly seek help. They succeed because they are always wanting to learn, to acquire further professional qualifications, to |develop and to strive to be better.
If you are comfortable with your weaknesses, you will be comfortable delegating, empowering, promoting and trusting people’s judgment.
Get comfortable with your weakness and you will build a truly great team that will do things more effectively than you ever could.
Philip Bain is the |chairman of Chartered Management Institute and co-owner of ShredBank