Leadership can play an effective role in the building of any business, large or small.
It can have a direct effect on staff productivity and retention in particular, both vital areas for any growing business.
It’s also important to distinguish between leadership and management. One saying I like is: ‘managers have subordinates, whereas leaders have followers’. Who is more likely to drive your business? A subordinate; who largely does as they’re told and tends not to have buy-in into the organisation (and therefore probably doesn’t have the level of passion or commitment required to propel the business), or a follower; someone who understands and is passionate about the vision of the company they work for?
In interviewing over 50 of Australia’s most talented and inspirational leaders for the book Super Leaders of Australia, I’ve discovered many share common factors when it comes to leadership success. Importantly, they realise leadership is not just about growing revenue and focusing on the bottom line, but that companies and organisations have a responsibility to the people they employ as well as the broader community in which they operate.
Janine Allis (Boost Juice), Leanne Preston (Wild Child) and Sarina Russo (Sarina Russo Group) all have definite views on what it takes to become a ‘super leader’.
According to Janine, the most important skills a business leader can have include the ability to listen, empower and surround themselves with people who complement their own skills.
Leanne says ‘vision’ is the key leadership attribute: “Without vision, the other attributes—such as focus, commitment and communication—have little meaning.”
Meanwhile, training and employment guru, Sarina Russo, says a good leader must “create certainty, ensure direction and foster a feeling there’s ‘something in it for me’ in the organisation”.
Without further ado, here are 20 practical tips that you can put into practice today, with a view to enhancing your leadership skills and boosting business as a result.
1. Let your people know their contributions in the workplace matter.
2. Keep communication at an open and honest level.
3. Acknowledge, privately and in public, an outstanding individual effort or win.
4. Be a positive role model—walk the talk!
5. Give people the skills and knowledge to do their job properly—you must invest in people to get the best out of them!
6. Be aware constantly of your own strengths and weaknesses.
7. Prioritise your day and allow for the unexpected.
8. Always have a view to the long term—don’t get bogged down on daily details.
9. Be resilient—you will face challenges and make mistakes, just make sure you keep your eye on the end-game.
10. Be prepared to make the tough decisions—you need to put yourself out there to get the results you need.
11. Don’t take yourself too seriously—have fun and laugh with others.
12. Great leaders have great mentors—find yourself an external mentor that you can have an open relationship with, with no agenda.
13. Clearly articulate your vision and stay focused on it.
14. Be brave enough to ask the ‘dumb’ questions.
15. Never compromise on getting the right talent on board and then let them do the job you hired them to do.
16. Learn to be a great listener.
17. Understand the difference between ‘leading’ and ‘managing’.
18. Don’t be afraid to hire people who know more then you do.
19. Be passionate and believe in what you are doing.
20. Develop a true work/life balance—spending quality time with friends, family and in the community will improve your standing as a leader.
As Kenneth Blanchard, co-author of The One-Minute Manager, says: “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
Who are you going to influence today?
* Carmen Parnos is CEO of Super Leaders of Australia, a company dedicated to developing and promoting Australia’s future ‘super leaders’. She can be contacted via the website www.superleaders.com.au or by phoning (03) 9823 6235 or 0416 068 536.