Thought Leadership

4 Skills You Need To Become An Outstanding Leader

One hears the term leadership daily in the corporate world, yet it has remained a puzzle to decipher for most. This term can bring to mind several instances, such as 

 -an executive scaling their organization with the help of their employees

-the captain of a football team leading his teammates to victory

-or even a class monitor who leads a well-disciplined classroom


What is leadership?

Peter Drucker, the famed Austrian-American educator, management consultant and author, whose writings have greatly aided the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation, defined leadership as, “The lifting of a madman’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal limitations.” Simply put, leadership is the ability to guide and influence teammates or followers of an organization to achieve a common goal.


A great example is the former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Where the majority saw obstacles, this American President saw opportunities and possibilities. He worked hard to create a culture of integrity and transparency in his administration, which led to loyalty, higher efficiency, and a booming economy for the country.


Are Leadership Qualities Innate?

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association reported that “32% of the variance in leadership role occupancy was associated with heritability.” In other words, there was a genetic component, but it was far from the whole story. Researchers concluded that prior life events and work experience also impact leadership.


While a study conducted by the Journal of Leadership Education reported that to be an effective leader, you first must be ready to lead, with traits like self-confidence as well as training.


So, are leaders born or made? The answer is simultaneously dissatisfying and understandable: It’sIt’s both. While certain people come into this world with innate leadership qualities – people with charisma, flair and judgment that come naturally to born leaders such as Bill Gates or Barack Obama. Many have continuously learned and grown to become good leaders. 


What Makes A Good Leader Great?

To grow as a leader, you must prioritize learning and consistently work towards your professional development. Your schedule should always have time to learn, no matter how busy it gets. Replace 30 minutes of Netflix with reading a book on learning a course on leadership. Dr Kimberly Janson, a leadership expert, also lives by the rule “Plan the work and work the plan.” When you start working towards creating a plan for your development, you’ll be more likely to stick to it.


Four Leadership Skills Which Will Change Your Life

As per an article previously written by our Contributor, Ken Pasternak, Best-Selling Author, Consultant, and Speaker, there are 4 C’s for Great Leadership, communication, culture, character and coaching. In addition, here are a few more points that can help guide you to outstanding leadership.


1. Empathy

According to the Centre for Creative Leadership, empathetic managers are viewed as better performers in their jobs by their bosses and also lead higher-performing teams. The findings were consistent across the sample: those managers rated as empathetic by subordinates were also rated as high performing by their own boss. Being able to demonstrate empathy creates trust within your team. While many business leaders have been trying to inculcate the concept of empathy as an integral part of their leadership, one shining example is that of Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft Corporation. He puts empathy at the centre of everything he is about to pursue – from new product launches and new markets to customers, employees, and partners his company would choose to work with; he leads with empathy.

2. Agility

Ninety-two per cent of C-level executives believe organizational agility is critical to business success. Yet only 27 per cent consider themselves highly agile. This is an essential skill, as when leaders develop agility, they increase their ability to become situationally aware and adapt to complex, quickly changing environments. More agile leaders are generally capable of seeing more options, engaging stakeholders more collaboratively, and making more informed decisions. Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos is known for his agile leadership. This includes recognizing and correcting bad decisions instantly and adopting a strategy he calls ‘disagreeing and committing.’ This approach embodies Agile thinking. For instance, Jeff Bezos decided to release an Amazon Studios production even though he had his doubts. He also withdrew ‘The Last Tycoon’ two weeks after releasing a season of episodes. 


3. Vision

A leadership vision is essential for two reasons: It provides inspiration and the necessary motivation to keep your team moving ahead. Employees are likely to work harder when they have targets to meet and know what the goal is. Leadership vision sets goals for the team to accomplish within a given period. Gavin Armstrong, CEO & Founder of Lucky Iron Fish, says, “Having every single member of the team know the overarching purpose of the organization, i.e. your North Star, is an incredibly important tool in providing meaning to the work being done — especially during periods of adversity and competing priorities. Having the North Star entrenched into the company culture serves as one of the factors in making critical go/no-go decisions. It also plays an important role in helping both internal and external stakeholders envision the company’s future potential.”


4. Admitting you don’t know the answer

As Larry Robertson, Founder of Lighthouse Consulting, explains in his article, he says, “Instead of “I know” or “I must appear to know,” consider this alternate combination: “I know” and “I don’t know.” Not knowing doesn’t fit the hero image. What it does instead makes the would-be hero the powerful catalyst they should be. Saying “I don’t know” opens things up – for others to lead and for leaders to learn. It enables the diversity of thought across any group to come to the forefront. It invites everyone into the task of leading and imbues ownership. These things allow it to become a multiplier and clarifier for a shared purpose.”


In conclusion:

Being a leader isn’t only about getting results, giving out orders or getting compliance; it goes way beyond that. Being a great leader is all about building a solid culture and trust amongst your team members— one that helps the team grow and enables every employee to reach their true potential. As Kenneth Blanchard, Business Consultant, author and motivational speaker, said, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”