Leaders hold great power and influence over the values of those within their organisation. Due to this, it is imperative to form good habits as early on in your leadership role as possible. Great leadership (and the great culture that can be cultivated from such leadership) is one of the most effective ways to create a positive and lasting impact on your organisation, as well as create personal satisfaction from watching your organisation flourish.
John Allison, President and CEO of the Cato Institute, and author of The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure, outlines 5 essential skills in his book that every great leader shares; and how you can master these skills too.
1. A great leader paints an inspiring vision of what the organisation can be. By communicating the potential of the organisation (and the potential of the employees within it), you are fulfilling your obligation as a leader to inspire and create true positive change. Create a vision of how you see the organisation in the future, and then communicate effectively the role you employees have in creating that organisation with you.
2. A great leader develops, or conveys, the purpose of the organisation. Only when employees truly understand the mission of the organisation, can they whole-heartedly work towards it. Answer this simple question: what is our mission? Convey that message to your employees, and make sure they understand how their role is working towards that mission.
3. A great leader understands the human values that assist in reaching their organisational goals; they live and work by them unequivocally. Ensure that your leadership practices are grounded in human values including honesty, teamwork, objectivity, integrity and innovative thinking. Frame your actions and decisions with those values, and demonstrate them daily to those working with you. When your employees are aware of your standard of operation, and that you will accept nothing less, they too will operate by the same working values.
4. A great leader develops a strategy to turn their vision into reality. A strategy is essential for turning your vision and purpose into actionable steps that must be achieved. A strategy that is derived from your organisation (and your own) values, that is focused on continual growth and development, is essential to stay agile and maintain competitive advantage in your market.
5. A great leader develops systems and processes to provide feedback and coaching to employees in order to reinforce behaviours that contribute to employees’ skill mastery and organisational success. As a leader, it is your responsibility to provide an environment for workers that encourages skill-stretching, learning, development and further training for career advancement. This not only provides individuals with a profound opportunity to gain confidence and excel within their working environment, but also empowers employees to achieve great things for the betterment of the organisation.