Leadership is often mistaken for management. They differ greatly. Leaders inspire. They drive home the mission of the company and keep the company on track. They live the company’s brand. They are people we want to follow and emulate.
Managers make sure things get done. Project management and daily management are key functions of a company. Strong managers add value and keep tasks on track. If they can lead in the process; all the better.
After my years working in and for a host of companies, I’ve observed many strong leaders and each of them have these X things in common.
Vision for the Brand
A strong vision is the rudder of the company. It keeps the focus on track but does not move it forward. That takes paddles or engines, which are the managers and team members who implement the vision. The leader(s) keeps the rudder in the water no matter what.
Consistency of vision does not mean staying put. In surmise it means staying consistent to the brand in good times and bad. The strength of a leader is challenged in time of trouble. Leading is easy when everything is good. The leaders I admire never waivered from the overarching vision, mission, and principles of the company no matter what.
Empathy & Heart
Leadership without understanding alienates the leader from the team. Good leaders can imagine themselves in the shoes of their team, feel the pleasure and the pain of people throughout the organization, while making decisions that often hurt. Those with a heart know how to reduce the pain of tough decisions, create programs and safety nets for workers, and build teams that trust.
Communication is power. The ability to articulate vision is an art. Good leader make communication a priority. They breakdown barriers. Often error on the side of more communication rather than less. Are thoughtful in what they say, combining empathy to every communication.
Open communication requires trust. Trust in your teams, trust that your message will calm fears, reduce rumors, or on the positive side, inspire and lead. Leaders trust their team. Now, they are not naive enough to trust without verifying, but they start from a platform of trust.
Confidence is not taught; it comes from an understanding of how leaders lead. That can be taught. When leaders understand what will make them stronger and begin to implement that vision, success will build confidence and confidence will build continued success.
Courage It takes guts to trust, to communicate, to protect the company no matter the situation. Courage comes with experience and the confidence that comes with a strong vision and training. Yes, this is something that often culminates from training that puts the leader’s rudder back in the water.