What does it really take to be a great leader? That’s one of those questions that you can ask a dozen, or a hundred, different people, and get a dozen, or a hundred different answers back.
Some people will tell you about the kinds of leaders they personally prefer. Others will talk about the types of leaders they think are most effective. Other people will describe the kinds of leaders they, personally, want to be like. To me, we are all leaders; the difference becomes how we choose to lead. I’ll save that discussion for another post, for now, let’s talk about leading a business.
Each leader you will meet will have their own management style. You can learn more about different management styles in this article – https://getsling.com/blog/types-of-management-styles/. Nonetheless, while the specific traits of particular leaders will vary along with their personalities, there are some behaviors and traits that arguably always contribute positively to someone’s leadership abilities and potential. Then there are others that always detract from those abilities and that potential.
Here are a few of the behaviors and traits good leaders possess. If you embody these principles, you can become a significantly better, stronger leader.
Don’t pass the buck! Take Extreme Ownership for everything that happens in your business.
Retired U.S. Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin have gained a lot of attention in business and management circles in the last several years. This is thanks to the publication of their 2015 book “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” and also their consultation company Echelon Front.
Taking their lessons in leadership principles straight from the battlefield, these men advocate heavily for a concept they refer to as “Extreme Ownership”. In short, Extreme Ownership means that no matter what’s happening in the business, the leader takes full ownership and accountability. They do not pass the buck or play the blame game.
With so many people being used to placing blame, this can be a tough mindset to adopt. However, adopting this mindset will yield real and lasting results. With an Extreme Ownership mindset, a manager or CEO will always have to ask themselves three questions:
“How have I contributed to this problem?”
“How can I take steps to correct it?” and,
“How can I prevent similar problems from happening next time?”
This mindset doesn’t mean problem employees get let off the hook. Actually, the advice is to fire them if they’re really letting the team down. What it does mean is leaders have to lead from the front. They have to inspire change in the company through their example, and always have a proactive and can-do attitude. The alternative is a situation where leaders are constantly looking for opportunities to shirk responsibility and shift blame to others. That’s not likely to prove inspirational or effective, much less to boost productivity and loyalty.
Have integrity and character above all else
Some business leaders allow dishonesty and weak character to manifest in their own personalities, and in their companies too. This is something to be avoided at all costs, regardless of whatever your particular management style or your strengths or weaknesses may be.
Integrity always comes first in business. Integrity is something I personally value highly in my personal and professional life. If you act with honesty and integrity, you will respect yourself more and your staff will respect you more. Your reputation will shine in your industry, and people will line up to do business with you.
If you play the game of deceit and manipulation, however, you may get away with it for a while — but the rot will set in, and sooner or later everything will come crashing down around you. Your professional reputation could be ruined forever.
To see an example of this playing out in reality, you only need to look at the example of the disastrous Fyre Festival scam and the entrepreneur behind it — Billy McFarland. Chronic dishonesty and manipulation on the part of McFarland and other organizers lead to many people being defrauded. McFarland’s reputation is now scarred and he is serving time in federal prison.
Not only did his team not feel loyalty towards him, but many of them also leaked details about his corruption. They celebrated when his scheme collapsed around him. Will he be able to bounce back from this? We’ll just have to wait and see…
Look for ways of simplifying rather than complicating things
If you chronically complicate things in your business, you shouldn’t be surprised to discover that your team members have a vague idea of what’s actually going on. They may fail to perform at peak efficiency. Wherever possible, always try and go for the simplest effective strategy you can. Do what you can to simplify complex strategies and systems.
Simple systems are more resilient when things go wrong. They’re more likely to make sense to the people you work with. They will be more engaged and execute systems and tasks properly. Also having systems in place, you will be able to maximize efficiency in your business.
Being a good leader is not always an easy task. It’s something you have to work at every day. Strive for excellence and embrace the concept of “Extreme Ownership”. When you do you gain a respected reputation with your staff and customers. People will be lining up to do business with you.