If you’re an entrepreneur, then you’re a leader. Maybe you don’t have any staff yet, maybe you’ve got a team of a hundred, maybe you just bought into a massive franchise. At some point, leadership is going to factor into your professional journey. But not everyone is cut out to be a leader, some people are terrible at it, others struggle with setting an example, many just don’t know how to operate in a team environment.
“There is no right or wrong approach to leadership if your style is built on being genuine and honest underscored by a willingness to learn from your team. Check your ego at the door, because even the best leaders can always learn from their teams. And remember the ultimate measure of a leader is not how you behave during good times but how you lead during times of challenge and struggle.” - Robin Chakrabarti
It’s important to note that being a leader is an important opportunity that places you in a position of power and influence. The lack of the latter more than the abundance of the former is often where leaders fail, so it’s important, particularly in today’s workplace where there are generational challenges, that today’s leaders have a specific skillset. And there’s a lot to be learned from leaders in business today. We’ve isolated four traits of a successful leader that aren’t just important, they’re essential:
1) Demonstrate Follow Through
A wishy washy attitude to leadership can sink a ship before it even leaves the dock. If that nautical metaphor didn’t work for you, then how about this: A successful leader is someone who delivers on their promises. You can’t make a commitment and then shift directions abruptly. Being a leader means following through on your promise and delivering results. Employees and team members see this cycle, and are more likely to respond positively and reciprocate.
2) Encourage Creativity, Push for Innovation
We’re living in a world that’s powered by a new kind of battery: the Millennial! This battery loves to live online, embraces the Netflix/Amazon culture of everything must be delivered to me now (right now, not yesterday), and they’re one of the most innovative generations to pop up in the last, well, millenium. A leader who wishes to harness this raw energy is someone who recognizes the creative potential and, instead of veering away from it, embraces and encourages it. This generation doesn’t think outside the box, there is no box! The box is gone! Where is the box? No one knows! Want to find the box? Encourage your team to discover an innovative way to find the box. And they’ll do it.
3) Nurture Your Team, Don’t Assemble It
This is a tough one for many people because all of a sudden, you’re no longer just a leader, you’re a teacher, counsellor, and parent. While there’s something to be said for head hunting, to find the absolute best people to fill out your team, and that’s going to come with a certain amount of assembly, you’re still going to need to nurture that team. There’s a personal touch point between today’s successful leaders and their teams. For one thing, they call their employees ‘teams’ instead of employees. A leader’s ability to recognize potential, trust individuals with responsibilities, and empower them to learn through doing and making mistakes, and doing again, is something that’s a struggle. But if you can master that fine line between ‘I’m not your boss, I’m your BFF!’ and ‘I recognize your potential and want to feed it’ then you’re on the right track.
4) Stay Flexible and Embrace Adaptability
While this may seem to counteract point #1 ever so slightly, there’s a compelling argument to be made for being adaptable. Having the ability to roll with the punches, to take the hits, to sometimes walk away from a tough situation so you can address is better the next time, is the cornerstone of someone who is supposed to lead. Being flexible in your business doesn’t mean not following through, sometimes it just means there’s a better way to do something. And if you’re flexible and adaptable, that shift is something your team will recognize as a positive, not a negative.