Are leaders born or are leaders made? This is a question that has troubled many a corporate leadership guru of our time. In our daily lives, we often come across children and young adults who appear to stand out from their peers. Whether they are taking charge of the football field or being at the forefront of organizing a college event, these youngsters appear to us as taking the lead in initiating things. We often like to say “this kid has team leader qualities“.
Some leadership traits do indeed appear in children at an early age, giving the impression that individuals might be born into leadership roles. But the reality is quite different. There are numerous examples in history of unassuming, reticent, and introverted children who went on to take on the mantle of CEO in some of the most respected organizations in the world.
Leadership skills are too important to be simply left to divine fate. Companies looking to build their corporate leadership teams can take solace in the fact that individuals can be groomed into leaders through sustained training, much of which is accessible today at the click of a button or the swipe of a finger.
But what are some of the traits which leaders appear to have, that make them effuse those qualities in the eyes of the general public? In the rest of this article, we will discuss a few important leadership principles that every leader should know. If you are heading a business, these principles will apply across most leadership roles in your organization.
Customer Is Still King (or Queen)
You could modify the old business mantra “Customer is King” to “Customer is King or Queen” to reflect the changing times, but that would not change the underlying message of one of the top leadership principles of all time. Every individual in corporate leadership must recognize the importance of customer service and build a culture within their organization that puts the customer before anyone else. Customer trust must be earned and maintained over time, for without the customer, an organization is nothing.
The Team Wins, The Individual Loses
There are leaders who never give credit to their team for a win, rather usurping all the credit themselves, in a bid to move up the corporate leadership ladder. These can rarely be team leader qualities. Most corporate wins result from the combined contribution of a team. A real leader is one who credits their team for a win and takes complete ownership of any loss.
Leadership = Innovation
Gone are the days when a leader could rely purely on their organizational size to keep ahead of the competition. We are in the age of startups who can quickly disrupt the status quo in business. Today leadership principles must tag innovation principles. A leader’s job is to be extremely well-read with the latest and greatest technologies in their business. They must be willing to take risks and be innovative in business decisions. This is the only way to stay ahead of the competition.
Honing Your Instincts
Leaders have so much experience in corporate leadership roles that on more occasions than one, they can instinctively identify the right business decision from a wrong one – even if the data would suggest otherwise. These instinctive team-leading qualities come from years and years of analyzing the drivers of their own business, understanding their competitors, and being aware of the direction in which the winds in their markets are blowing.
This is one of the most important team leader qualities that a leader must exhibit, and probably the one they least wish to. Most individuals in leadership roles see smart people as a threat to their own existence. Leaders should ideally be hiring the smartest talent for leadership roles and providing them opportunities to grow within the organization. They must realize that the laurels won by these prodigies will help raise their own worth within the organization. The other reason a leader must hire and develop the smartest people is to build a line of succession within the organization. They must realize that the organization is sacrosanct and that their only goal is to help it succeed and grow at any cost.
Ethics and High Standards
Most business schools have a course on Ethics, but it gets bucketed as a “soft” course in comparison to heavyweights like Finance, Marketing, and Corporate Leadership. Ethics in business is paramount, and can often be the fine line between business success and complete business failure. Leaders never compromise on ethics.
They maintain the highest standards for themselves and for their organizations. Leaders push their employees to outperform and reward them handsomely for the same with leadership roles. Their quest for perfection almost always pays off in the form of the highest quality of products and services that come out of the organizations they lead.
Quick and Bold Decision Making
The first-mover advantage is one of those leadership principles that can never be underestimated. For this, leaders need to be able to make quick and often bold decisions. Individuals who get stuck up in “analysis paralysis” miss the bus. A leader is willing to take calculated risks knowing that any decision he or she takes is usually reversible. Similarly, leaders must be quick and bold to make decisions on projects that are not performing as expected and be able to cut their losses. There is no room for emotional attachment in business decision making.
One of the good team leader qualities that an individual must possess is the ability to listen. Leaders who are open-minded are able to learn a lot, both about their organization and about themselves, from simply listening to their employees. Leaders also get hands-on involved in their businesses – something which helps them understand their businesses inside out.
Whether they have a background in finance or not, a leader knows that corporate leadership is all about sound financial decisions. Most leaders tend to be frugal over corporate spending and will try to negotiate the best deal possible with a client or a partner. Although leaders have the power to spend out of their budgets, they rarely go overboard with their financial business decisions.
We have outlined nine leadership principles that you should focus on as a leader. There are several other nuggets that you will find online. We would encourage you to do a search for other leadership principles and see which ones work for you. A good online course like the one here can then help you put some of these principles into practice.
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