Every once in a while, even though the room is full of experienced and successful people , you meet a leader who stands out. You can know in an instant that they act, think and guide differently than any other leader.
But those individuals did not become great leaders overnight. Although some were born with certain aptitudes to be it, the reality is that they are formed through training, experience and a healthy dose of introspection to make quick and correct decisions. They learn to work with different personalities. They discover how to nurture, motivate and inspire.
Do you want to become a great leader? Work hard to achieve it in a natural, automatic and instinctive way. Start by cultivating these eight habits:
1. They turn to praise. It’s easy to see when an acknowledgment is simply a pretext for assigning a long list of tasks. We have all been around people who occasionally shake hands. No matter how much they want to fake it, their dishonesty is evident (tell me if you haven’t had at least one boss like that).
Praise is almost like breathing for an effective leader: natural, aromatic, frequent, and most of all, genuine and sincere.
2. They decide. Ideas are great, but implementation is everything. Great leaders measure, evaluate and decide almost immediately, this because decision and action gives them confidence and momentum. So bad decisions are better than no decisions at all. Errors can almost always be corrected.
3. They accept responsibility. We all make bad decisions. What matters is what we do after we make those mistakes. Great leaders are the first to say “I was wrong” or “I made the wrong decision; we need to change course ”. They hold themselves accountable and desperately want to build a culture where mistakes are challenges to overcome, not opportunities to point fingers and blame someone.
4. They communicate. Business is full of “what”: what to implement, what to execute, what to say, and sometimes what to feel. What is missing is a “why”. This is why many projects, processes and tasks fail.
Managers stipulate. Great leaders explain and then listen, because the most effective communication happens when we listen, not when we speak.
5. They set the example. Imagine that you are walking through the factory with the plant manager and there is a piece of garbage on the floor. There are two types of people in this situation:
One who sees it, stops, takes it, walks 20 steps to the garbage can and throws it away. He picked up the trash but also gave a message.
The other sees it, picks it up and keeps the garbage until he sees that a garbage can is nearby. He is not thinking of giving a message. He only saw some trash and picked it up without thinking.
Why is this important to employees? When you’re in charge, everyone sees what you do. The difference is how you do it and what that says about you. Great leaders do that because it is important to them.
6. Give feedback. We all want to improve: to be more skilled and successful. This is why we need constructive feedback. Because they care about their employees, not just as workers, but as people. Great leaders go to the one with problems and say “I know you can do that and I will help you.” Great leaders naturally try to change their lives because they care.
7. They seek help. At some point, many people in a leadership position avoid showing vulnerability . After all, you are in charge, so you are supposed to know everything. Of course that’s impossible. Great leaders don’t claim to know everything (in fact they must hire people who know more than they do) so they instinctively ask questions and automatically ask for help. In that process they show vulnerability, respect for the knowledge and skills of others and the willingness to listen, all great qualities of a leader.
8. Challenge. Most leaders implement their ideas by reinforcing processes and procedures that support their ideas. For employees, commitment and satisfaction are based on autonomy and independence. They care much more when it is their idea, process or responsibility.
Great leaders create standards and guidelines and then challenge their employees to give them the autonomy and independence to work their best. They allow employees to change “theirs” into “ours,” transforming work into an external expression of each person’s unique skills, talents, and experiences.
By Jeff Haden
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