Five Secrets to Becoming an Extraordinary Leader Everyone wants to Work for

It is not about looks or popularity. Nor is it about power. Although this is not the core of what leadership is about, some leaders are lucky enough to have all of these. However,  It is the human element in the leader’s skills and abilities which makes a positive impact on a person.

With a big fluctuation in people applying and quitting jobs as the norm, the question remains how corporates can retain good talent at their companies. By adding extra perks you might bring a small solution to a bigger problem. The bigger problem could be that people do not like who they work for. It might be that employees just simply can’t get along with the leader steering the team.

Stephen Covey said that “Leadership is a choice, not a position.” The Mindspa Institute, a preferred training and soft skills development partner for various corporate organisations, identified five secrets to becoming a leader everyone wants to work for:

  1. Become a servant to your team members. Mahatma Gandhi said it best in his quote: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This does not mean you should suddenly allow everyone to walk all over you. You still need to have a degree of assertiveness. There are two sides to being a leader of an efficient and powerful team:  firstly, you need to hire the right talent to make the job easier and take your entire team towards achieving the goals. Secondly, as the leader, you should streamline this journey by continuously aligning your team. Fixing what is wrong or looking after their happiness and wellbeing will give you the insider know-how to direct your team and to inspire and motivate them.
  2. Be a go-to-leader. Ever heard of having an ‘open-door-policy’? Live by this rule and communicate this to your team. People like to feel heard. Ralph Nichols said: “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” They like to know that their feelings matter. If you practice active listening and apply the skill of empathy, you will be able to reach the root of the problem and thus be able to solve it better. “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people”, Woodrow Wilson said.
  3. Learn and let learn. The 35th President of the US, John F. Kennedy said that “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” He is absolutely right. Developing your own leadership skills is not enough. You need to invest in up-skilling your staff. Great leaders are continuously learning. Indirectly they set the example for their peers. Encourage your staff and promote learning and skills development as part of your team building and enhancement. Amy Edmondson reminded us  that  “Learning is not a one-time event or a periodic luxury. Great leaders in great companies recognize that the ability to constantly learn, innovate, and improve is vital to their success.” This will not only be great for your staff’s performance appraisals but will also create a knowledgeable team.  It makes your staff and team a powerful force.
  4. Authenticity boasts trust. Be the best version of yourself and then lead by example. Remember, you wouldn’t have become the leader of your team if you didn’t have the potential to become a great leader. People naturally look up to you. If you are genuine and show a few of your weaknesses in the workplace, it will help people see that you are only human. People trust those who are transparent, but still maintain a level of professionalism. As stated by Farshad Asl: “Authentic Leaders are not afraid to show emotion and vulnerability as they share in the challenges with their team. Developing a solid foundation of trust with open and honest communication is critical to authentic leadership.”
  5. Motivate and Inspire. Excellent leaders pay attention to their staff. They know what inspires and motivates each member and then they bring out the best in their employees. They make their team members feel better about themselves. By having a positive attitude and focusing on the upliftment of their staff members, they inspire the team to progress towards achieving their goals.

There are many lessons, characteristics, qualities and tips that we can go into, like being fair; consistent; equality; passion; drive etc. There are many soft skill courses available from The Mindspa Institute to the members of the SA Council for Business Women to transforming a technical expert to an organisational leader or to develop your own leadership skills.

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