Leaders are bestowed with a remarkable potential to divert the course of history…… To change the status quo, to bring progress and to engender things that only exist in wishes of the masses – this is what a courageous, visionary and discernible leader is capable of doing.
“The really great people make you feel that you, too, can become great”. The scope and power of this quote by Mark Twain seems more apparent when we witness changes around us brought about by great leaders of yesteryears and of today. Clearly, leadership is the art of creating teams and making them achieve unimaginable feats.
So who are the prominent leaders of the current generation? How are they bringing the change in the world? And what are the lessons to be learned from them?
Let’s find out……
We all know about his rise, fall, rise again, and demise story. We are also aware of how he changed the fortunes of Apple Inc. But very few of us realize and observe that his extraordinary disruption transformed at least seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, mobile phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. Isn’t his a story of a great leader? Hasn’t a big change taken place by whatever he did? Don’t say it isn’t…..
My personal favorite….His story is really interesting, compelling, writing, and above all inspiring. The charismatic founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba failed every school and university he went as a student. He then failed to secure a job in MNCs after graduation. This interview of his will tells you how he was rejected by “KFC”. Even after all these excruciating rejections; Jack Ma went on, fought against all odds and became one of the wealthiest persons of the 21st century. Inspiration galore…isn’t it?
A courageous, innovative and visionary entrepreneur, Elon Musk, traced a fascinating journey from PayPal to Tesla Motors to SpaceX. He is one of the biggest disruptors industry has ever seen. He is continuously changing his game for the better. His towering goals are to usher the world into a sustainable energy future; and into a new space age by setting up a colony on Mars. Really, he has achieved what very few can dream of.
There are other heavyweight contenders for inspirational leaders like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Angela Merkel etc. I have featured only three as of now.
Takeaways From Finest Of Leaders
If you are seeking to build high performing teams under your leadership, here are some important characteristics that you need to inculcate:
- Be a goal-oriented leader
If you are not crystal clear of what you want and where you have to go, you will probably end up doing nothing and reaching nowhere. It is very crucial to define clear goals for yourself and your team. Such a leader develops a sound knowledge and a realistic outlook of the area he/she is operating in, and becomes aware of the context in which the organization functions. Setting goals also encompasses vision for the future. This reminds me of a good quote by Robin S. Sharma, “Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” A leader with a broad and strategic vision attracts many people around him and to walk with him.
Why is the goal so important? It is the core belief of the business, company, or organization; this is why it (read business) is meant for; this is the basis for its existence in the future as well. A goal-oriented leader not only focuses on the overall achievement of the goal, but also gives each member of the team individual goals. These individual achievements later contribute towards the overall performance and fulfillment of a collective goal.
- Be an inspiring figure
If you are able to impart inspiration and motivation in your team, the team members will always be high on energy and enthusiasm to perform better. This inspiration gives them a sense of mission and they become absolutely sure of what they are doing is of great importance. The quote by John Quincy Adams fits highly relevantly here: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” An inspiring leader is as much a matter of becoming one as much as it seems an innate quality, albeit you have that level of observation to find out how. To begin with, you might have noticed certain people that they easily connect with people, always show optimism and lead from the front. So if you really want to be an inspiring leader, remember the following points:
- Be the one in the room that works harder and smarter than everyone else
- Be enthusiastic about what you do
- Set the bar high and navigate a course of action
- Face the challenges head-on
- Encourage potential
- Behave differently if you want your team to do so
- Be an effective communicator
Communication is an essential attribute for building alignment and executing strategy; and for a leader, it is a profound way of connection and inspiration – not just the transmission of information. A leader must be able to clearly convey his vision, strategy, speed, direction and results. But how? Communicating humbly, passionately and confidently – has more impact than the words you choose. How do the most successful leaders sell their vision? Through communication….. The principle is simple here; irrespective of whether we are talking about business, sports and politics, best leaders are best communicators. Moreover, a good leader adapts his communication style depending upon his audience by identifying their characteristics and interests. However, to become an effective communicator, you must also have the ability to listen. Also remember, it is not only what you say, but how you say it.
- Give effective employee recognition
Successful leaders are also well versed in the art and science of recognizing employees, their performance, and their value for the organization. People who feel appreciated are more positive and enthusiastic to contribute. Therefore to develop a high performing team, employee recognition (ER) is a must. In principle, you are showing to others in a tangible way that an employee’s have been outstanding. Having said that, employee recognition can sometimes be tricky; it is possible that recognizing someone’s efforts might turn into employee complaining, jealousy, and dissatisfaction.
There are basically two critical aspects of ER. One, you need to identify or realize an opportunity to appreciate someone. Being in a non-receptive frame will make you pass over many such opportunities, which might be disadvantageous for you. Second, you need to figure out which type of appreciation and encouragement is most appropriate at any particular situation. For ER, apart from monetary benefits, you can also throw occasional office parties for them; or you can make them happy with gift bags and boxes.
- Breed innovation at workplace
Innovation is a buzzword as far as business is concerned. It isn’t about providing new ideas out of the blue, but if we delve a little bit deeper to know what it actually is – innovation is the process of finding new ways of doing things that are easier, sustainable, and economical. While in pure business terms, innovation is to implements newer ways to keep operations, products and services fresh. Therefore when creativity is introduced in an ongoing work culture, innovation is said to have bred in the workplace. To sum it up in the words of Jacob Beckley, Vice President of Fusion92, from an article he wrote sometime back, “Innovation embodies the improvement of something that has come before. It is the evolution of convenience, efficiency and effectiveness.”
Today, there are many examples of innovative technologies that are not only touching our lives but making us dependent upon them. For example “Whatsapp” has completely changed the way we communicate today. It has become so endearing to us that we unconsciously check our smartphones for new “Whatsapp” messages. “Blockchain” technology is another fine example of innovation that is going to change the way online business transactions will take place in future.
Thus, how are you going to breed innovation at your workplace?
- Start providing a degree of autonomy to your team members
- Don’t pressurize them unnecessary.
- Encourage them to take their passion beyond their desks.
- Brainstorm with them and ask their new perspectives.
These are my own perspectives as to what are the qualities and areas of leadership that help build high performing teams. If you examine closely these very characteristics of successful leaders shaped today’s generation.