“What are the things which differentiate a great leader?” my friend once asked me. This was a Monday, when both of us were waiting for our office cabs to come. We frequently discussed various issues varying from practical to philosophical matters in that very short time we spent at the cab stop. But this question got stuck in our minds and we started to think about the deeper aspect of it. Sets of images rushed across my mind – images of those people whom I considered as great leaders and the great work which was done by them. So while we both were searching for the best answer to that question, we both ended up with two action plans for ourselves. The action plan was to pen down those qualities that we think great leaders possess and meet with our notes after one week.
Here are those 3 things we both found common in the qualities of great leaders.
1. Respecting People, Processes and Calendar –
- People: Leaders know how the business grows. They know that they don’t grow the business directly, instead they grow their people and then people grow the business. Henceforth they spend a large portion of their time (regularly) with those people. Like meetings with employees, customers, other stakeholders, regulators and different people from the industry.
- Processes: Leaders know that the nosiness/organisations have to survive and flourish beyond individuals. The only way this can happen is via robust processes. They spend substantial time for reviewing; ideating, challenging and enhancing the processes which help in building efficiency.
- Calendar: If by-chance Microsoft Outlook was a human being, it would get shocked to see how regimented and rigorous the process of calendar management for a leader is. You will often find that great leaders start and close their meetings on time. Time is the only element that they use judiciously.
2. Working on self – Great leaders invest in themselves by remaining physically, intellectually, mentally and emotionally fit. They invest in enhancing, building and then developing new capabilities.
- Physical fitness: Some make a visit to the fitness centres, get the best trainer/instructor and then exercise under their guidance. Some pick up a sport which they like, get the finest coach, practice and improves it. Some leaders go for running. The usual time spent by them is between 45 minutes to 120 minutes which is minimum 4 days in a week.
- Mental fitness: They know the importance of remaining mentally agile. Some follow meditation, others might follow playing mind stimulating games, like Sudoku, word puzzle, etc.
- Intellectual fitness: Each leader has his/her own method of keeping themselves intellectually fit. Some are keen and voracious readers, so they fulfil their appetite for intellectuality by reading books, newspapers, magazines, newspapers, etc. Some of them prefer listening news, podcasts, webinars, etc. to remain intellectually fit.
- Emotional fitness: Most of the leaders develop their ability to recharge themselves. Almost every leader prefers to spend time with his/her family and friends to get emotionally recharged. They indulge in activities like singing, painting, trekking, watching movies, etc. with their friends and families.
- New capabilities: Leaders understand that it is very important to enhance and acquire new capabilities for delivering results efficiently. They take help from their mentors or professionals (leadership coaches) to identify their pain areas on which they need to work and then they commit themselves for developing these areas.
3. Orchestration – Just imagine that you have thousand musicians who are playing a piece of music however each one of them is playing as per his/her wish without any music conductor or their musical notes. It will result into a bad experience for listeners.
Leaders play a very significant role of holding all of this together. They connect the several dots and then ensure that the journey taken is in the correct direction.
To sum it up, the common and mutual traits we both found in our respective lists for becoming a great leader are: Working on self; Working on internal/external environment and Orchestration.
Can we expect a super human out of a leader? Might be yes, however the journey is worth giving a try!
Blog by- Hemangini Mahajan
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