Six Ways A Good Leader Can Become A Great Leader

Published 09 - February - 2021
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By Steve Durbin, Chief Executive of the ISF and Forbes Business Council Member

When people understand what you’re aiming for, they are better equipped to help you reach it.

Steve Durbin, Chief Executive of the ISF

Many people can become good leaders. After all, you can learn how to communicate and how to be a better listener; you can learn the importance of integrity; you can strive to better yourself and to help those around you do the same. You can even learn how to craft a vision and chart a course to realize that vision. Tick off these boxes, and you can become a “good” leader.

But to become a great leader and inspire leadership in others, you must go deeper. You must be open-minded, and you must accept that leadership is a journey rather than a destination.

Here’s how to make that transition from a good to a great leader:

Always try to improve.

A hunger to further your knowledge and understand everything in your business is the hallmark of a good leader. Strive to listen when there’s an opportunity to learn something valuable. Don’t accept the status quo; ask questions and probe so that you can constantly find new ways to improve yourself and your business.

Don’t fear trying new ideas.

To be a great leader, you can’t be afraid to make a judgment call on the basis that it might not work out as you’d hoped. Succeeding in business requires some risk and lots of experimentation. A good leader will accept that they might not get it right every time, and they will encourage others to do the same. Great leaders are innovators because they have to be.

By encouraging everybody to give their best, to experiment and be creative, and to really be safe in recognizing their fallibility, you can empower teams to go beyond and reach new levels of performance. Fostering an environment where people feel safe taking risks and suggesting innovative ideas is crucial for long-term success.

Accept failure — and learn from it.

It’s not enough to own your failures; as a great leader, you must also derive important lessons from them. There are so many factors that can contribute to a failure, so it takes an in-depth post-mortem and an open mind to analyze its root cause. Take the time to understand failures, accept different points of view on what went wrong and build a complete picture. This process can be painful at times, but it is enormously valuable.

Accepting and learning from failure doesn’t just guard against repetitions; it can also help inform your next great success. The popular idea that failure is a better teacher than success often holds true, but it requires leaders to swallow their pride and make concerted efforts to analyze and learn what they can before moving on.

Think ahead.

While it’s all too easy for leaders to be sucked into firefighting and triage, great leaders need have an eye on the horizon. Don’t just be thinking about what might happen tomorrow; consider what could be occur two weeks from now and in six months’ time.

The ability to flex and pivot in the face of changing circumstances is crucial, but to be a great leader, you will also need to craft a longer-term roadmap for the future. From my perspective, short-term results are frequently overvalued. Sometimes leadership is about sticking to your guns and seeing something through. It’s also about managing expectations and taking people with you, which means sharing a vision and laying out a clear path to reach it.

When people understand what you’re aiming for, they are better equipped to help you reach it.

Communicate regularly and respectfully.

Issuing commands without discussion, failing to explain decisions or bouncing from pillar to post shows a lack of respect and integrity. Great leaders are considerate and inclusive. It’s only by communicating clearly that you can ensure everyone is giving their best effort. Being open about what you’re trying to do as a company and about the challenges you face engages people in trying to solve those challenges.

I’ve found that taking a collaborative approach to problem-solving — meaning you and your team are trying to figure out things collectively — is far more likely to succeed. There’s a reason why every person on your team has been hired, so let them show it. Great leaders empower and facilitate others; they show faith in their colleagues’ abilities. Like a star quarterback, they inspire those around them to raise their game.

Encourage and educate others.

The ability and patience to serve as a mentor and ensure that potential is realized in those around you are essential to great leadership. I believe great leaders also understand how to engage and motivate the talents around them. So, you must entrust others with responsibilities to help them flourish, know when to delegate and when to command, and maintain a positive outlook. Lead by example to create a workplace that has a positive perspective.

Ultimately, co-workers and peers will decide if you’re a great leader, but whether you get there, striving to be better will benefit you, your colleagues and your organization.

Six Ways A Good Leader Can Become A Great Leader
Read the full article on Forbes