We’ve all experienced good and bad leadership, right from when we were very young. Since we were in school, we’ve had to work hard for teachers we like, and those we don’t. Being in the work place is no different. Except that your boss pays your salary.
What makes a good leader? We can learn from our bad experiences and make resolutions never to make consistently unreasonable and unfair demands like that one PE teacher in secondary school. We can understand what it was about their leadership techniques that left us unwilling to do the job at all, never mind do it well.
So what are the qualities that every good leader should, in theory, possess?
Gemma Harding, Head of Client Services at CALLCARE, proposes that we employ the 3 F’s in our approach to leadership.
Focus: long term
If a man does not know to what port he is steering, no wind is favourable to him.
No leader can lead without direction. Focusing on goals and priorities will help you gain perspective and drive you forwards to help you achieve your aims.
You should focus on playing to your weaknesses as well as your strengths. If you’re a natural organiser, for instance, utilise what comes naturally to help you keep your team on track.
On the other hand, if you’re a perfectionist who needs positive feedback and reassurance to know you’re doing well, chill out and take a step back. Set yourself small goals and recognise when you achieve them. Be sure to celebrate your team’s efforts as well as your own when you succeed.
Focus: short term
Goal-setting and focus are necessary qualities in order to drive your business or your team forward successfully. Once you have set and understood your long term goals, you must focus on the short term.
Social networking sites can prove counter-productive when you’re trying to build focus.
Re-concentrate your efforts with some helpful apps. The Anti-Social app, for instance, available to buy for your Mac or PC, blocks out social media sites, and the temptation to procrastinate. You can disable the app by restarting your computer.
If you don’t feel like investing in anything so drastic, you can try Rescue Time, the free app that monitors how you spend your time online, and acts as a wake-up call by showing you graphs and charts of time spent on your favourite sites. You can even download the app for your team, to improve the overall focus of your operations.
I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?
– Benjamin Disraeli
In a 21st century context, Disraeli is referring to Twitter. Work to follow popular opinion, and to understand it. Engage with it. Prove to your customers, team members and employees that you understand them because you communicate with them.
When you engage with pervading popular opinion, you will be able to influence it. A good leader knows how to lead from the middle of the pack.
When you follow opinion, and lead with innovation, you optimise your business potential.
Social media is a great way to interact with your customers and gain insights to their desires – for free. Marketing is a conversation. You can lead in your industry when you learn to follow opinion.
Likewise, you will become a better leader in your office if you demonstrate a willingness to understand and engage with your team and your employees. It is not always possible to achieve alone: good leaders work alongside people to achieve shared goals.
It might go without saying that if you are perceived as fair, then your team members or employees will like you more, and perhaps therefore be more inclined to work harder. Acting free from favouritism is a way to avoid being seen as unfair. Do not let your personal feelings get in the way of business relationships.
Build these relationships on mutual respect and influence. You can do this by being open and honest. When you make a decision, explain to your team how you arrived at that conclusion. Why have you behaved a certain way?
Focus, followership and fairness
This article has discussed leadership qualities that can be applied both to interpersonal relationships in the office, and to your overall business strategy.
The key to good leadership lies in your ability to focus on the goals you set yourself and your company, while following and understanding pervading opinions, in order to accommodate them in your strategy. Finally, you must demonstrate fairness to your customers and your employees, to build relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.