Six Principles of Great Leadership at Work

Many people believe that leadership is all about setting targets and giving directions, but that is far from being true. However, a leader should be a well-rounded individual, one who can balance everything and inspire people.

Contrary to the popular belief, no one is born into leadership. Some people might be stronger and more determined than others, which are great qualities for a good leader, but definitely not enough.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”

Jim Rohn

The one who does everything in their power to have a positive impact over the people they lead is a good leader. If you aim to become a great leader, here are some principles of good leadership you should follow.

1. Be compassionate

Remember when gen X leaders thought they should be hard as a rock and show no vulnerabilities? Well, millennials have completely changed the game on that matter. Nowadays, a great leader is considered to be the one who has the emotional intelligence to understand and empathize with their employees, their customers, and the world around them.

Business is not only about profit and capital anymore. People do business with those who share similar values. We’re expecting people in leadership positions to be compassionate and show their vulnerabilities while stating loud and clearly what they believe in.

So don’t be afraid to show your real self, and treat your employees nothing less than you would expect to be treated yourself.

2. Accept failure

We all know that failure is part of the process of growth. Every great innovation stands on a pile of previous failures. After the Amazon Fire smartphone failure, CEO Jeff Bezos declared that he has made “billions of dollars of failures” and yet “a few big successes compensate for dozens and dozens of things that didn’t work”. Great leaders like Bezos know that failure should never stand in the way of success.

On the contrary, failure provides experience, makes you more resilient, and gives you important lessons that will eventually help you grow and improve. People who are holding back out of fear of failure will never know real success.

Allow your team to make mistakes. Encourage them to move past such mistakes and keep improving themselves until the progress they make comes to compensate for all the previous failures.

3. Ask the right questions

Most people accept the first answer someone provides and don’t ask further questions. But that means, they are missing the deeper, more elaborate thoughts that could make a difference between regular and outstanding.

You can get that by making a habit of asking your people a simple question: “and what else?”. This short and unexpected question will push people out of their comfort zone and make them voice the thoughts they otherwise would’ve kept to themselves out of a natural need of playing safe. But those undervalued thoughts could be the gold mine, the outstanding ideas that give birth to innovation.

4. Be a great teacher

Good leaders do more than assigning tasks and pushing their people to provide. Great ones are also good teachers. It is up to you to be a mentor able to show people how they can become better professionals. Sharing your values and your vision will help your team understand the ‘why’ – the reasoning standing behind the actions.

Of course, part of being a great teacher is to also providing the how by sharing your technical skills and methods. Last but not least, it is important to always reach further and teach your people more than how to do their job. Inspiring leaders teach people life lessons.

5. Listen. Just listen.  

Leaders are used to be the ones who do the speaking in most settings. While that is part of the job description, an inspiring leader will also make efforts to pay attention and listen to what others have to say.

Many times, people in positions of power don’t have the patience or the interest to listen, especially to those who work for them. They interrupt, assume things, and jump to conclusions with a know-it-all attitude. Don’t be that guy. That guy might be a boss, might be in charge, might be feared or even respected, but most probably he is not an inspiring leader.

In exchange, in order to be a great leader that people will love and appreciate, you need to learn how to listen. Be actively involved in the conversation when people share they thoughts with you, and always follow up after a conversation. This is the best way to show that you care, which will earn people’s trust and loyalty.

6. Empower your team

Nothing shows trust and respect more than empowering your people to do their job without constant supervision. In comparison with an insecure manager who will micromanage their team, inspiring leadership will empower people to do the work they’ve been hired to do.

You already know they are capable – that’s why you’ve hired them in the first place. Allowing them the freedom to work as they see fit and take decisions autonomously will make your employees more self-confident and productive. It will be easier for them to realize that the company’s success and their personal success are strongly related and depend upon each other.

Therefore, you need to believe in your people and give them the chance to prove what they’re capable of. You might be surprised.

Leadership is legacy

At the end of the day, employees look at their inspiring leader and think to themselves “I want to be just like that“. A great leader will inspire people so much that their words of wisdom will be remembered and followed even in their absence.

Think about leadership as your chance to leave a mark and build a legacy that will stay alive through the people that you managed to inspire.

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