A Few Good Leaders

By |Published On: December 12, 2011|

Leadership is an elusive term.  There is no specific training program one can participate in to learn to be a leader.  No single leader has all the characteristics that could be emulated to become a leader.  There is no finite list of values that defines a leader.

So, perhaps leadership is more personal, a positive relationship one person inspires in others.  And if it isn’t something that can be learned in the same sense we learn mathematics or science.  I believe it can be practiced and developed at different levels.

Are leaders born or trained?

Did you know that a couple of scientific studies suggest that leadership is 30% genetic and 70% learned? That’s why I believe everyone has the potential to become a leader! But like a muscle, what we do with leadership potential is the difference between being a poor to average leader and being a good or even a great one. We have also discussed in the past the 5 behaviors that we think a leader has, feel free to read that post too.

Organizations can benefit immensely from the capacity to train their leaders and managerial staff. Furthermore, investing in leadership training for your employees has multiple advantages. Not only will it equip them to handle more roles and responsibilities in the future, but also comes with several other benefits like:

  • Reduced employee turnover

  • Increased leader confidence

  • Double-digit YOY revenue growth

  • Increased training satisfaction rates

Leadership issues today

man holding a sign and speaking to others outdoors

Now, every industry has many leaders and many more people who have the ability to lead.  But now is a difficult time to be a leader, and as a result fewer people are stepping up to lead.  It’s difficult right now because leadership requires time and energy many of us think we don’t have.

Over the last three years, many industries and businesses have faced so many challenges that we are exhausted trying to do more with less.  We are challenged daily to find new business opportunities.  With no end in sight, it’s a difficult time to develop your leadership muscle.  But if you don’t, who will?

So, what are the most common challenges leaders face? In our opinion:

  • Be effective at work
  • Inspire others
  • Develop employees
  • Be a leader of a team
  • Guiding change

Building trust as a leader

red-haired woman putting her hands on top of others

I recently read an article published in the New York Times about how IBM develops new ideas through a collaborative team effort.  You can read it here.

A critical value most successful teams have is TRUST.  When members of a team trust each other, they can accomplish great things together.

Unfortunately, trust doesn’t always exist on teams.

IBM has developed this interesting collaborative structure for teams that seems to work for them when trust doesn’t exist.  (Be mindful that in this case there isn’t mistrust.  It’s just that their team is either too new, too large or to disparate to have developed trust in each other).

Their collaborative process seems interesting to me.  We may try it the next time we need to find a solution to a challenge in our business.

So, how do you do it? How do you build trust in the workplace?

  1. Be aware that building trust takes hard work and it’s not immediate
  2. Support and be honest with your team
  3. Learn to listen
  4. Show empathy
  5. Ask for feedback
  6. Be you, be authentic
  7. Embrace and push a culture of sharing
  8. Don’t do the rest for one day, be consistent

Above all, remember that great leadership starts with great communication.

But, why do you want to be a leader?

When you boil it down, there are a few key reasons to choose to lead:

1.  At its most basic, you need to be a leader so you can provide for your family and the families of your employees.

2.  Being a leader means you will help shape the direction of the industry in which your company competes.

3.  Being a leader provides gratification that you are giving back to an industry that has given much to you.

These are all great reasons to become a leader.  Think about this though – if you don’t become a leader, will your business survive?

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