26 Apr

What it takes to be a Leader

Throughout history there have been some exceptional leaders, Ghandi, Churchill, and Nelson Mandela are a few that come to mind. All these great leaders have stood out over the decades and have mastered the art of leading a group of people, where in some circumstances have had to lead in the most harrowing of circumstances. What was the reason that people chose to follow these great leaders?

There has been extensive research completed by many universities and organisations over the years to try and pinpoint what exactly are the traits or qualities of a good leader. The research has apparently come back inconclusive. As you can guess, every exceptional leader who has stood out in a crowd has come with a different background, value system, experiences and character. Unfortunately there is no such thing as one neat little set of leadership traits. If you had to compare Ghandi and Churchill, these two men were polar opposites in their leadership styles, even missing a few key leadership traits some would say. However, they are still regarded as great leaders of our time.

There are however two traits that do rise above the countless leadership traits that we see on personal development lists and job description requirements and those two are as follows.

  1. Good leaders have the ability to adapt to their circumstances: A leader is someone who can assess and acknowledge the environment for what it is. Expecting the environment to be perfect for their unique requirements would be an impossible ask. Good leaders can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a situation as well as identify future opportunities.  Never wishing what could be, but knowing what the results will be into the future. Good leaders truly believe in the vision themselves, so much so that their passion and motivation for achieving their vision shines through in all that they do.
  2. Good leaders understand the need for building relationships: Leaders understand that in order to reach the ultimate vision they need the people around them to firstly buy into that vision. Once that has happened only then can action plans be  executed.

How do you get people to follow you or buy into the vision? Well, this could be the place where some of the other important traits come in. Good leaders know that it’s not about spitting out orders and expecting results. It’s ultimately about building relationships. What are some of the characteristics of a strong relationship? What should a good leader be practising everyday?

  • Respect: Earning respect from the team by practising active listening, being accountable for one’s actions, practising what they preach and  stepping up and leading from the front.
  • Empathy: Taking the time to understand the team and how they view the situation. Considering their feedback and suggestions to make them feel part of the process.
  • Loyalty: Being honest and open with the team builds loyalty and trust.
  • Treating everyone as unique: Good leaders take the time to get to know the individual team members. Their style, strengths, challenges, personal goals and dreams. The leader will help each team member to grow, develop and reach personal goals whilst working towards the business vision.

Do you have these leadership traits? If not, what do you need to do to develop them?

05 Apr

What comes after success?

What comes after success? What happens after you’ve achieved your first big goal?
The meaning of business success will always be unique for everyone. We are all aiming for different goals with different focuses, which is what makes my job so interesting. But what happens after you have reached your unique success?
Do you have a plan for how to maintain this success or haven’t you thought about this yet?
I believe we spend too much time thinking about the journey to success, the marketing, client acquisition, brand awareness, and not enough time on what happens after that. We tend to focus on the chase, the fun, exciting and sexy tasks in the business and don’t often think about what will be required of us after we’ve built the brand or secured some clients. What comes next? Is the plan to sit around patting yourself on the back, or building a sustainable and successful business?
So whilst you are plotting world domination, think about the following and perhaps plan for these before you conquer the world or at least do this at the same time.
1. Your role: What will your role look like once you have reached your goals? Will you still be working as passionately in the business or could you delegate or outsource certain responsibilities? It’s like climbing a staircase, every time you reach a new step your observation point changes. A new set of goals would need a new focus. Business owners often find themselves “stuck” or stagnating in the same role, often due to lack of direction. I like to call it “ground-hog day syndrome”. This complacent manner is not very healthy for the business owner or business growth, moral and business culture. To prevent this stuck feeling, plan the next step or start thinking about the next step, the next goal now before you even reach your initial goal.
2. Your team: Your people plan – what does that look like? If you’re a one-man band you may decide either to expand, to hire new team members or to stay on your own. Think about your team now (if you have one, or imagine one ). What would the perfect organogram be in your business? Before you can take on a new role you should define your people strategy. Teams also need to be guided, motivated, managed and lead. What is your current skill set around these key characteristics? Start defining your skills needs, and build that into your planning. It’s all about being proactive and being in control of the plan instead of being reactive and spending your precious time putting out fires.
3. Your product/service: These would always be evolving and adapting to your current and future market. In order to be ahead of the game, what is your innovation plan? Whilst working on and delivering the current  product/service offering there should always be an on-going product/service evaluation. What’s going well, what’s needing an update? What are your customers asking for? Looking externally at various issues and how they could affect your offering, such as environmental, political, social, economic, legislative and technological factors.
4. Your processes and systems: Think about the perfect system(s) you could implement into your business. Systems that would streamline your workload, improve your time management, communications and overall help to maintain your business structure. You may not be aware of these systems or even able to afford these systems right now, but could you budget for them and do some best practise research? Always begin with the end in mind, think about what it needs to look like and plan towards that vision.
This is an example of working on your business, not just in your business. Taking the time to future proof your business. Take a look at the following checklist, which can help you identify areas which you would need to focus on to ensure you are building a sustainable business. Future proofing your business checklist