The question I am asked most often is “do you think leaders are born or made?” I don’t think it’s either one of those things; I think they are found.
There are leaders at every level of organisations, and they all come with unique qualities, but are united in their ability to persuade and influence others. Yes, some may have been born, and some have had their leadership qualities developed, but being a leader isn’t an exclusive club. Anyone can be a leader if they choose to be.
Equally, many who are in leadership positions are not suitable for the job. Dominic Raab’s recent resignation is clear evidence of this. During his time as Justice Secretary and as Deputy PM, Raab was accused of bullying civil servants; he was found to have acted in an intimidating manner, being unreasonably and persistently aggressive, misusing his power to undermine and humiliate staff.
Leadership is not about being “in charge”. It is about empowering others to achieve their full potential.
He has often been described as micromanaging the work of civil servants – it was even reported that he caused delays to the evacuation of Afghanistan because he refused to review documents that were formatted in a way he didn’t like.
He believed that by controlling every aspect of his team’s work, he would achieve better results. Instead, it led to a toxic work environment and poor performance. As was clearly demonstrated in his graceless resignation letter, this is a man who is ‘always right’. It is not possible to please anyone who believes they are ‘perfect’ and everyone else is wrong or not good enough.
A touch of humility goes a long way, but unfortunately, it never appeared to occur to him as he raged out of office.
A leader’s job is not to dictate how their team should operate, but to empower them to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. This means creating a culture of trust and collaboration where everyone feels valued and respected. When team members feel trusted and respected, they will take ownership of their work and bring their own ideas to the table.
I’m sure many of us have experienced being micromanaged at one time or another. As much as anything, it stifles innovation and creativity as colleagues don’t feel their ideas will be supported.
Great leaders create a culture of trust and collaboration; they share responsibility and empower their team to do their best work.
Bill Gates admitted in 2016 that he was “fanatical about work,” and he monitored his team’s work hours and activities closely. He further added, “I knew everybody’s license plates so I could look out in the parking lot and see when did people come in [and] when were they leaving.” But even Gates eventually saw that this was not a good trait for a leader.
Creating a culture of trust and collaboration requires a leadership approach that goes beyond micromanagement. A leader must be able to identify the right people for the job and build a team of A players. Only then can they empower the team to reach their vision; sticking with delegation won’t bring about the high performance the best leaders inspire.
They are also open to new ideas and feedback, and they are always willing to learn and grow. If you want to be a good leader, focus on these qualities, and you will be well on your way to success.
The best leaders inspire others to be the best they can be.
Thought for the week:
Not everyone remembers precisely what you said, but everyone remembers how you made them feel. (quoted from Maya Angelou)
Tips for being an A player:
- When the leader owns up to their mistakes, everybody tried harder without fear.
- Never move so far away that you can’t hear the dissenting voices.
- When no one ever disagrees with you – pause and reflect.
- Listen to the negative whispers before they become forceful complaints .
- Belittling people ends in your own failure.