What Makes a Great Team Leader?
John Maxwell, author and authority on leadership, famously said: “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
An entire galaxy of inspirational Indian business leaders from the past have shown the way, by building institutions that continue to enrich the lives of millions of Indians to this day. Think of the achievements and contributions of men like Jamshetji Tata, G.D Birla, Walchand Hirachand Doshi, JRD Tata, Dr. Verghese Kurien, Russi Mody, Sumant Moolgaokar and F.C.Kohli. Business leaders such as Ratan Tata, N R Narayana Murthy, Azim Hashim Premji, Nandan Nilekani and Yogesh Chander Deveshwar are admired for their achievements and leadership qualities in contemporary India today.
These men led or continue to lead from the front. They did not rule as bosses. They were leaders. It takes an inspirational writer and leadership coach like Israelmore Ayivor to appreciate the difference between a boss and a leader:
A boss says ‘go and make sure you do it’; a leader says ‘let’s go and make it happen.’ Bosses… Click To TweetWhat is it that makes these men so inspirational and their qualities so admirable? Let us look at some of the qualities that make a great leader.
Leaders lead their teams
Great leaders in business as in war are right there with their teams in good times and in bad times. They plan things with their teams, observe the progress made, make adjustments where necessary and help their teams achieve the goals. They do all this from the front, not from the rear or the flanks.
Cool in a crisis
Great leaders maintain their calm even when things are falling apart around them. It’s because they have the experience as well as the resilience to handle everything. Panic, fear, indecisiveness or helplessness at the time of a business crisis should not percolate down the ranks.
Integrity, fairness and trust
Leaders who lack integrity and are not fair do not earn the respect of their teams. Respect is earned through fair and honest behavior. It does not come from titles and by shouting commands or orders out loud. It comes from taking the blame and honestly admitting to mistakes when things go wrong. It comes from treating every member equally, as favoritism adversely impacts team morale and team dynamics. It comes from giving awards and issuing reprimands to those who deserve them. Good leaders hate gossip and those who indulge in it.
Delegation, not micro-management
Leaders do not micro-manage. They delegate tasks as per the skills and experience set of the team members. This builds motivation levels and resourcefulness in the team. Delegation empowers the team. Only insecure leaders feel the need to control and supervise every task of every team member.
Emphasis on accountability
Leaders have to ensure that team members do not abdicate their responsibilities and are held accountable. They must get things done. This is essential for building discipline and a performance oriented culture.
Great communication and motivational skills
Great leaders need to be great communicators as their role requires them to be great teachers as well as ready students. They need to be good givers and good takers. A leader has to coach his team and give them everything he has learnt. He also needs to be a good taker with listening skills to accept the opinions, suggestions and feedback from his team. Motivating teams to achieve difficult goals or overcome daunting challenges also calls for great communication skills. Teams cannot be terrified or bullied into performing. They need appreciation and rewards for their wins.
The ability to empathize
Knowing exactly what your team is feeling, thinking or doing at any point of time is a skill that great leaders possess. This knowledge comes from the ability to put yourself in the minds, bodies and shoes of those you are leading. This ability is often the difference between success and failure.
The virtue of humility
Through the ages, great men and women have been admired for their humility. Great leaders are wise and humble enough to admit to their people that they do not know everything. They are friendly and approachable, and want to bond better with their teams. They share many of the tasks with team members to build rapport, a constructive and positive atmosphere, to motivate and also to stay in touch with all the “small and menial” details of the job.
Business goals and a larger purpose in life
Last but not least in terms of importance, great leaders almost always achieve the goals they set for their company and their business. But there are loftier goals apart from the business goals of growth and profits. Great leaders give great importance to larger goals such as the development and welfare of their people, their communities and their contribution to society. It is not only about generating jobs and creating shareholder wealth or superior value for customers. It is also about making a difference in the lives of hundreds of people in society with integrity, transparency and with a sense of responsibility.
Here is a great video from one of my favourite speakers on How great leaders inspire action :
So those are some of the qualities that define great leaders today. Have you known any great leaders in your workplace? Got an experience to share? Tell us about it below.
PS : John Maxwell has an amazing library of such articles, videos and books. You should subscribe to his blog here – www.johnmaxwell.com/resources/free-resources/