How do you become the Herb Kelleher or the Richard Branson of the Corporate world? How did they end up becoming the legendary leaders that transformed not only their companies but revolutionized the face of their entire industry? Was it their emotional intelligence or their charm and charisma that got their employees to give their all to the company? Maybe, maybe not.
Is one born with a leadership flair, or can some essential leadership skills be learned through practice? Business leaders worldwide believe that leadership is a continual learning process and can be sharpened with deliberate practice. Here are four skills that the most celebrated leaders swear by:
1. Listen, learn and improvise
According to Richard Branson, leaders must be willing to listen, learn, and improvise. The theory behind it is simple, we never stop learning, it doesn’t matter if you are a CEO or a fresh graduate, learning is a continuous process. “As a leader, you should always be listening. Be visible, note down what you hear and you’ll be surprised how much you learn,” he advised. While in conversation with Forbes, he claimed that learning and leadership skills go hand in hand. “Too much credit goes to me for what we have achieved at Virgin,” he claimed. “The successes happen from working and learning with some of the world’s most inspiring and inspired people.”
2. Empathize with your employees
How do you get your team to perform better if the team morale is low? You have to find ways to lift the confidence of the group. Coronavirus is a perfect example of this. While some companies failed to boost employee morale, other companies such as Culligan Water excelled at it. Because of its established commitment to well-being, employees have access to various resources already in place, including an onsite HealthSource Solutions, Well-being Program Manager and health coach, virtual well-being portal, and Employee Assistance Program counselling.
It doesn’t just end there, Culligan is also utilizing leadership testimonials to inspire, engage and empower Culligan employees on a personal level to take care of their mental health, especially during the pandemic.
3. Transparency is key
Your team is built and centred around trust. Nurture it and tend to it by always keeping your employees in the loop. As rightly said by John Hingley, Co-founder of Startup Dasheroo, you need to be as transparent as you can with your team members. The more they know, the more you all are part of the same dream and vision, and you’ll all work harder to get where you need to go as a team. If you’re keeping information from your team members, they’ll lose trust and start to feel like they’re not contributing to the bigger picture. That’s when they look elsewhere.
4. Walk the talk
Always remember to model the qualities that you would like to see in your employees. Your team will look up to you as their role model. You want your employees to incorporate a skill or habit? You do it first and watch them follow. Research suggests that teammates with leaders who set an example for their team show higher levels of motivation and are more likely to imitate their leaders’ qualities. They also tend to be more optimistic and have higher standards of performance.
“As a leader, a lot of your job is to make those people successful. It’s less about trying to be successful (yourself), and more about making sure you have good people and your work is to remove that barrier, remove roadblocks for them so that they can be successful in what they do. So that’s how I’ve always thought about it.” Quoted by Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet and Google at Think Marketing.
Ultimately, great leaders are the ones that build successful companies, high-performing, and efficient teams, and most importantly help create more leaders and success stories.