I recently wrote a piece on the need for political and business leaders to face up to the changes we are currently experiencing and deliver the changes needed. To be successful we need to have in place leaders who are up to the task at hand.
During my time as a member of senior management teams I worked with several colleagues who failed to match up to the requirements of the job. Very often they were blind to the fact they were not fully effective in their role.
I’ve read many books and attended workshops on leadership and what needs to be done in order to be a great leader. I’ve also read books with lists of what is needed to be a great leader and every year more than a thousand books are published on leadership. Don’t worry, I’ve no plans in place to add my name to the list of those publishing books on leadership this year.
I will instead take this opportunity to share with you just three requirements I view as necessary in order to be successful as a leader. These are by no means the only requirements needed to be a great leader but without them the chances of greatness are very much diminished.
The first requirement is fundamental, and I’ve seen so many good leaders fall due to the fact they are not trustworthy. Trust is a two-way street and not only is it imperative the leader is someone the team trust but also, they need to be able to trust their team. If he or she cannot be trusted, then nobody will believe a single word uttered. If the leader does not trust the team then poor performance is the outcome as power and authority is retained at the top.
Secondly, a leader must be fit for purpose. I’ve seen family companies promote family members because of their birthright rather than their skills and experience. I’ve also seen cronyism at work with leaders surrounding themselves with friends and people of influence resulting in demotivated and poor performing teams. High performing teams cannot happen under leadership that is weak and unfit for purpose.
Thirdly, a leader needs to be liked. This is not to say that they are soft people who everyone loves but someone who the team wants to have as their leader. Being nice will never deliver high performance but the reverse, being an Attila the Hun character that everyone fears, will not work either. I’m a parent of three children and during their early years I had to use what I call ‘tough love’. This is all about facing up to reality and dealing with behaviours that are unacceptable. I’ve also used this same principle in my business life, and it works.
There are no shortcuts to becoming a truly effective leader who delivers for the investors as well as the team and the customers. Delivering great results for one at the expense of the other does not work and will inevitably result in the demise of the leader.
Hopefully my personal experiences in business and in my personal life are of value.