Most high-performing leaders concern themselves with that which other people value most and if they do it well those leaders usually climb the corporate ladder fastest. We have created an order, particularly in western societies, which is designed to reward the natural business hierarchies we see across our corporate landscape. Sometimes leaders become disillusioned in the process of climbing the corporate, and when they hit the summit this is where teams and organisations can start to suffer. So, how can we remain balanced as leaders?
Below I have outlined seven key traits, behaviours and ideas which, if correctly fused, will be an aide towards better and balanced leadership.
Willingness to take responsibility:
Leaders must always take responsibility. They must confront the unknown and face the future or the things which they find most difficult. This is a life lesson as much as a leadership lesson, furthermore, we see it in leaders who take control of situations, who own what they do and inspire others around them to take responsibility. Leaders must wake up each day and wear the weight of responsibility.
You don’t take on the ultimate responsibility in a business without courage. Courage is a form of faith; it’s aligning to those business values, breathing them in and out, daily. If you’re courageous it means that you think there is something within you that will respond to the biggest challenges and take responsibility for them. The more challenging the task/responsibility the more courageous you need to be.
Often, as you pursue your business values, you need to delay gratification. If you’re going to take on great tasks you can’t act impulsively – you need to plan into the future. You sacrifice what is expedient in the present to do what is appropriate for those you serve, and the business, in to the future. Another element of sacrifice is to let go of parts of you that are not up to the job (personal development) and constantly shed them. It may even mean shedding most of you (what got you where you are now won’t necessarily keep you there or better yet take you further) – it could be that in doing so it nearly ruins you. Persistence is key here. You may shed partners, your business’s top performers, assistants – whatever and whoever gets in the way of building a future proof business.
If you’re going to solve difficult problems in your business, you must be able to cooperate with other people. Thus, you need to be able to engage in reciprocal action. You must be able to play fair otherwise you can’t organise yourself in the business – as a leader you can easily become corrupt without solid people around you. Fact, you cannot operate a successful business alone! You need a crew of people to confront and conquer your major obstacles and challenges. Great leaders don’t do great things alone – they cooperate, compete and do things in meaningful ways, they orient themselves both in a responsible and courageous manner.
Great leaders have the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. They, in part, judge other people – it’s actually a way that they help others – be sure not to confuse judging with condemning. To judge the talent in your business is to inform them what should be kept within them and what should be let go. Great leaders do the same thing. It’s a purification process, not a damnation process. Without leaders judging their talent, the business will suffer, and the talent will struggle forward with all their baggage and mistakes repeating and intact. It’s absolutely a bad idea not to critique!
Leaders who are merciful help make development possible, they encourage it. For example, when great leaders are judging, they are doing it in a way which encourages development – this is what you do with eager new talent. You don’t crush them with your judgement, although you do want to help them separate wheat from chaff. Great leaders want to encourage them because they know there is potential within the talent and that requires a certain amount of mercy, a certain amount of forbearance. Getting the balance between judgement and mercy correct is a tough task and one which actually requires a lot of internal battles within the leader themselves.
Attention to and resistance of deceit:
Part of being a great leader is having an ability to take responsibility, the ability to be courageous; the capacity for judgement, mercy and reciprocity – however, it is all lost if you do not have a willingness to pay attention to tyranny in the organisation and more importantly stand up against it.
When leaders intertwine the components aforementioned, it sets, not only, the leader right, but also sets direct reports right, it sets the wider business community right – it may even set the markets and the industry right. The intermingling of all this is manifested in the sense of meaningful work. Great leaders get an inside feeling of recognition and results are realised when the business has great balanced leadership.
Your thoughts are most welcome – do you recognise these behaviours, traits and ideas from your leaders? Are you a self-aware leader who believes these traits are a good foundation for being balanced? Get in touch, I’m open to your opinions and critique.