When everything around you in the workplace is falling apart, when everyone is shouting and it seems that it is the loudest voice that will be heard, when everyone has an opinion about the right solution, wouldn’t it be great to have someone who is actually in control? This is when a great leader can step in. But what is it about a great leader that makes him or her great?
Surprisingly, it is not that they know more than everyone else. We have all heard the anecdotes about the highly intelligent, highly skilled executive promoted into leadership only to fail at the job. Finding the right person for a leadership position is more an art than a science. Here a few things that can be seen in great leaders, you will note from the outset that these are character traits and not skills (although, maybe communication skills can be learnt)
Trust – Leaders like the late Nelson Mandela had so much influence because people knew they could trust him. His word was his bond. Employees want leaders to be trustworthy and transparent. They would rather be told that things are not going well than not be told anything at all. If you keep your promises, both big and small, it will have a hugely positive impact on your staff.
Confidence – Not over-confidence. We are not talking about the life-and-soul of the party type here. Showing the right level of confidence especially when things are not going to plan, will cause people to remain calm. The workforce will take cues from their leader. If the leader is highly agitated and dishing out meaningless orders or pointing fingers at a time of crisis, the this will cascade throughout the organisation. If the leader is confident and remains calm, the workforce will pick up that cue and work towards a desired solution
Optimism – Are you glass half empty or glass half full? Being optimistic does not mean being unrealistic. It is just a different way of looking at things. Clearly problems will occur, but they can be viewed as challenges to be overcome through positive solutions. A great leader will face a problem head on.
Communication – Above all else, talk to your staff. Communication can take many forms, but nothing beats looking someone in the eye and talking to them. Getting the workforce up to speed with the plan means there has to be a health line of communication. Leaders of even the biggest organisations have to get out there an talk to the employees. Nothing inspires loyalty like a one-to-one conversation with the boss. Even knowing someone who has had a conversation with the CEO can make a difference.