8 Qualities Today’s Leaders Can’t Live Without
It’s time to move on from the 80s. We’re long past the era of aggressive, domineering leaders who hang out in the executive office suite and lead by issuing orders and enforcing a business hierarchy. Today’s most successful companies focus on collaboration and communication, instead of relying on fear and authority. This new kind of company needs leaders who understand and embrace this new model of leadership and bottom-line success.
Here are eight qualities business owners in this brave new world need to have to compete. A good leader needs to be:
1. Collaborative. Successful leaders build teams, not just fill positions, and they understand that the command-and-control model is dead. Every single team member is empowered to offer input on key decisions and to communicate freely. Each team member feels that their contribution is valuable to the company’s future as a whole. This is the way ideas are sparked, and new and brilliant ways to innovate are uncovered. A collaborative leader inspires loyalty from their team because every member knows that are as valuable as the work they do.
2. Flexible. Flexibility doesn’t mean giving up control or going wildly off-script—it means considering possibilities beyond conventional business wisdom. It means remaining open to opportunities to find new and better ways to do things, smarter ways to conduct business, and new roads to success. For instance, continually evaluating your competitive position and considering reframing your focus. Staying close to customer concerns and suggestions and working with them to address their reasonable needs even if they fall out of expected scope.
3. Agile. Agility is all about how quickly you respond to unexpected changes and surprises, both good and bad. Agile leaders are able to recognize the problems and potential in a new situation, and to adapt on the fly. They can recognize when goals need to be revised midstream. And they’re always staying alert to incoming input and information in order to incorporate the data quickly into their decision-making.
4. Confident. Arguably, your entire role as leader boils down to one, simple role: you need to make your team believe in the company. Your team will always take cues from your behavior and attitude, so confidence in the success of your business and its future growth is vital. Even in the face of setbacks, remaining calm and confident that obstacles can be overcome is actually the first and most important way to ensure they will be.
5. Creative. Not all problems can be glanced at and then solved with clear-cut, unassailable logic or conventional wisdom. If you encounter a sticky problem that has a set of four lousy choices, you need to do as the cliché tells you—think outside the box and come up with a fifth, a sixth and a seventh. Consider unconventional angles and new perspectives. Ask yourself and your team “what if?” and be open to the possibilities that spring up, no matter how out-of-the-norm they seem.
6. Intuitive. Leaders don’t have roadmaps: they have skills, they have drive, and they have their intuition. Decision-making is a skill you can learn, and part of that skill is in knowing when you need to take the leap beyond fact and figures and let the final word be your gut instinct. It’s so much more than throwing up your hands and hoping luck will guide you—it’s learning to trust that your background, your experience, your good sense and your understanding will all combine to help you make the right decision. Learning to trust yourself and your instincts is just as important as working to help your team trust you.
7. Inspiring. Your confidence creates a baseline of inspiration for your team—but inspiration is also about working directly to boost morale. It’s about acknowledging the hard work your people do, rewarding success, and being a role model in your drive and enthusiasm for everything from daily tasks to your ultimate goals.
8. Have a Sense of Humor. Things go wrong. So many things, so many ways to go wrong. Your website crashes and burns, a major client storms off, your funding goes offline. You can panic and flail and drive morale directly into the dirt, or you can laugh at the mistakes. When you can find the humor in misfortune, you minimize its power over you and your team. You make a bad situation feel more manageable, and you make your people feel more able to tackle it.