6 Qualities of a STANDOUT leader
The old style of Leadership isn’t going to fly anymore. We all want more from our leaders. We are at a time where we are not willing to put up with fear-based leadership anymore — we want more than our basic needs met, we want more from our workplaces. The paycheque incentive isn’t enough to create brilliance for bosses that aren’t leading with inspiration.
It was an honour and a pleasure to talk with Natasha Hawker, HR expert, on The Leadership Edge podcast. She has had years of experience and in that time, has watched the good, the bad and the ugly side of leadership.
When I asked Natasha what were the characteristics of a standout leader, she broke it down like this:
• Authentic and Real
• Create a Vision
• Take their Team on a Journey
• Makes it ok to fail
I love all these points, don’t you? And, like everything, when it comes to personal and professional growth, each point is not just something to learn about, it is also a deepening practice. Shall we dive into each one of them a bit more?
Authentic and Real
People don’t want false leaders, they want leaders that they can like. Not only that, we all have an internal fake alarm. For most of us, we know when someone isn’t being real with us. It creates an instant disconnect and it also starts to erode trust. If you order a coffee, you want a coffee; you wouldn’t be impressed it you got a dandelion tea pretending to be a coffee.
Finding ways to still be professional and still be real, is a question that is being asked a lot. What does it mean to you? How are you being more real, more authentic with your team?
Create a Vision
Visions are powerful things. It is a way of seeing an idea of a future that you want to move towards and putting a big rubber band between your idea and the present moment. You create a forward movement towards it.
Leaders who have a vision are able to create a path forward that has momentum. Without such a vision, there is no pull forwards, and organisations can find themselves on a slow-moving train that is moving on a loop.
Take their Team on a Journey
It is one thing to have a vision, it is another one altogether to take your team on that journey with you. Leaders that work with their team to bring their thoughts and ideas into the vision, amp up the power of that elastic-pull forward. This also gives team members a sense of ownership in the vision.
Whether including your team in the vision is possible or not, communicating the vision clearly to your team is so important when it comes to keeping the momentum of the vision alive and flowing throughout your team. And let’s not forget, visions grow, expand, morph and change. Keeping your team up to date with these changes will keep the momentum going. That elastic band pulling you all forward will go slack if your team lose sight of where you are leading them.
Fear leadership is so passé. We don’t want our leaders to be in the top of glass towers that can’t be reached, or with the idea of approaching them, we break out in a sweat. Approachable is now in vogue.
Now approachability has a few parts to it. The first is making yourself available. Ask yourself how can I be more available to my team?
The next part of this is about being able to listen with the energy of curiosity. We can all listen, but the energy in which we listen is vastly different. Some people listen with an internal running commentary of analysis or judgement, another may listen while also working out what they are going to say next. These kinds of listening take away from your ability to be approachable. Curiosity, on the other hand, enhances it.
￼Just like we have an internal fake alarm that goes off when we experience something that isn’t real or authentic, we also have an internal alarm that sounds when we feel that something is being kept from us. This alarm can create a huge trust landslide, and crush the feelings of ownership and belonging of your team. This may seem a little dramatic, the thing is that it really can be. And this all happens under the surface.
Transparency may sound easy, but in fact, it is a real skill that needs high-level communication, with a good dollop of consistency and a side of vulnerability. Perfectionists find this particularly hard. It can often mean sharing the process, not just the finished polished thing. Being transparent can take some deep breaths.
Make it ok to fail
Oh, oh, oh! This one is so fantastic. How many of you have a fear of failing? And are you like me and have to deal with a whole shame response. If I get something wrong, even little things like a spelling mistake in an article, I get a wave of ice down my spine and my tummy feels like it has that forgotten cucumber, at the back fridge, sitting in it. When a lot of us do the wrong thing, we shrink and want to hide away. And we do this because we have been told over and over that mistakes are bad.
Leaders that have a different approach to failing, build a culture where mistakes are ok. Not only does this mean that more mistakes are actually acknowledged and reported, making the workplace more effective and safer, it also, over time, creates a fertile ground for innovation. And what if your team is like me, and gets a shame response from doing the wrong thing? This biggest antidote to shame is empathy. So a good dollop of that can help too.
At the end of the day, being an inspiring and standout leader is a big undertaking. But each and every one of these qualities has the ability to really raise up both your team and your organisation. At the same time, these qualities will help you to grow as a leader… What skills are you going to practice this week?
Trish Everett is a highly qualified communications consultant and mindset coach. She specialises in helping organisations build connected, innovative and success-orientated cultures in order to reduce costs and improve workforce productivity and effectiveness.
Listen to the latest episode of The Leadership Edge as Trish interviews Natasha Hawker for a HR perspective of Leadership, it is an episode that is full of gold.