What makes a leader? Is leadership a quality that is inherent in the individual, or does it stems from a connection formed between the ruler and the ruled? More than once, I have pondered how strong leaders have engendered a desire in me to succeed, more for fear of failing them than any accrued value that would befall me through success. Companies, whether startups in Silicon Valley or industry sales leaders within their sectors, die, survive or thrive on the skills of their leadership team. The good news is that leadership skills are learned every day, and inculcating them within your entire business model will bring clarity, direction, and purpose to everyone on the team.
Become a Boss at Being a Leader
There is a distinct difference between being a boss and being a leader. A boss, for instance, might wield significant power and influence within an organization, but when it comes to galvanizing a response from workers, their inability to lead, exhort, and inspire could well doom the company’s success from the get-go. Whereas a boss might motivate fear, a true leader will encourage enthusiasm. While a boss is busy attempting to place blame for a failed concept, the true leader will already be working towards developing a solution to that failure.
Effective leaders can be hard taskmasters and still engender the loyalty that is needed for a task to be accomplished. Indeed, setting production goals and schedules is the Provence of the team’s leader, but understanding when those goals need to be adjusted to ensure a better workflow stems from an understanding of the positions of the worker bees tasked with its completion. Additionally, a true leader will be, more often than not, found in the thick of things developing solutions and supporting their team with enthusiasm and energy.
Projection of a Vision
Perhaps the most important characteristic of a leader, whether beginning brand new startups or coaxing sales from even the tightest of markets, is the ability to share their vision for the company’s future with the people that will be needed to see that vision to completion. A directionless workforce is just that, and a rudderless ship will sink an enterprise very quickly if there is not a steady hand on the helm. It is the job of management to provide that steady hand, and provide the course corrections that will ensure that your team is responsive to the needs of the client, employee, and the company.
Franklin D. Roosevelt once noted, “The scariest thing about leading is looking back to see that no one is following you.”
Even the greatest of leaders have their self-doubt, but the men and women who have come down to us through history as truly inspiring leaders are the ones who transcended those self-doubts to galvanize those under them to greatness.