Leadership quality is the linchpin of organisational success. Many of the world’s most famous brands, for example, Apple, Facebook, Google, LVMH, Microsoft, and Tesla, have one thing in common: strong leaders with a burning desire to drive their companies forward. Most business owners know this, so why does it feel so hard to accomplish?
The answer: I sense we are too focused on seeking out ‘great’ leaders rather than simply building good ones. This is born from the misguided belief that leadership is an innate quality, an ‘it’ factor that some people have, and others don’t. The truth is that only 10% of business leaders are thought to have a natural talent for leading. When we stop searching for ‘great’ leaders and begin investing in fundamental leadership development, we will find that good leaders aren’t so elusive after all.
Cultivating good leaders
For businesses both big and small, good leadership is central to success. Its impact resonates across your entire business and significantly influences your bottom line. When you invest in leadership development that nurtures, guides, and creates the right leaders for your organisation, the impact is transformative. You attract and retain the right people. Your teams perform at their best. Your productivity reaches an all-time high. And your business grows. All this facilitates sustainable success and longevity that can ultimately build a legacy.
Just like any other role, future leaders must be given the tools and opportunities to develop their abilities to make a worthwhile impact. From what I’ve seen, leadership training in most organisations is primarily focused on the head, that is, the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘when’. To build true leaders, we need to place equal focus on the heart – the ‘who’, ‘why’, and ‘where’ that embraces the intellectual, emotional and will-to-win aspects. Employees who show nascent signs of leadership potential – integrity, empathy, dedication and drive, to name just a few – will thrive with the right leadership training.
The path to true leadership
Every business owner wants their brand to stand the test of time – from the local shop down the street to the multi-national conglomerate. Regardless of size, investing in true leadership development is essential to achieving this.
Authenticity, empathy, and intent are the three core qualities of true leadership, yet few standard leadership programs address them. In a time where 79% of people leave their jobs because they don’t feel appreciated, it’s more important than ever for leaders to connect with their people and give them meaning. Recognising the power of mutuality is key. It’s at the heart of leadership…and relationship. What we give in life, we tend to get and vice versa. So it is in business. If leaders expect their people to give their all, leaders need to reciprocate. Only this way will they gain the trust of their people and have them follow.
As a leader, communication is your most vital trait. Having an idea or a plan is one thing. Then you need to share it in such a way that people will want to listen, buy in and come along with you. This is especially important in times of uncertainty or challenge when employees look to their leaders for reassurance and guidance. Leaders need to be able to handle high-pressure situations and demonstrate the resolve to pursue the goal. To maintain stakeholder confidence, leaders must be accountable for their actions, take ownership of their mistakes and learn from them.
Effective communication, strategic thinking, adaptability, conflict management and negotiation are all critical skills that every business, large or small, needs of its leaders.
For most of us, these strengths are not innate, but they can be learned and developed. The right leadership training, coupled with on-the-job experience and coaching, equips leaders with the necessary tools. Failing to see the importance of providing current and future leaders with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, and your own, will inevitably hinder your business’ progress. Leadership development cannot simply be regarded as an expense; it’s an investment.
Leaders are the daily creators, carriers and custodians of culture
Culture is the glue that binds an organisation together, and it’s the leaders who set the tone. To ensure an inclusive and high-performance culture where employees are fully engaged and committed, and customer and shareholder loyalty grows, leaders must uphold their organisation’s values and uphold its purpose every day. This intrinsic link between leadership and organisational culture matters because 72% of employees cite poor leadership as the primary reason for leaving their jobs. Customer satisfaction is another measure that will give you a clear indication of the health of your business’ culture.
Good leadership is about relationship
Mutual trust, respect, and purpose are the foundation. Good leaders acknowledge and respect employees as individuals and see beyond their job descriptions. They take the time to listen to their concerns and to understand their ambitions. They build trust, motivate teams to give their all and, together, they achieve success even in times of change.
Without investing in the right kind of leadership development, businesses roll the dice on whether their organisations will succeed or fail. Rather than simply searching for that ‘great’ leader in the never-never, businesses must step up and build them from within.
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