Good leaders are well… good. But great leaders can do magic; they can kindle passion in those working with them and they can scale new heights that no one has dreamed of before. Going from being a good to a great leader isn’t a piece of cake, but we’ve got some fantastic tips to help you become the greatest leader you can be. So watch out, here are 10 sure ways with which you can go from being a good to a great leader.
1. Good leaders develop themselves, Great leaders develop others
Good leaders try to improve different aspects of their personality. A great leader goes one step further by identifying talented minds and developing them so that they can grow into much worthier assets. Great leaders are willing to make more space at the top positions for the rightly talented people instead of considering younger talents as threats to their own power. Great leaders invest on human capital and take personal care to ensure the growth of valuable minds, for this is surest path to progress for any organization or community.
Great leaders know that genuinely caring for team members has an additional positive effect: it fills their team-members with gratitude and inspires them to ready action for their leader’s commands.
2. Good leaders are good speakers, Great leaders are great listeners
Good leaders often speak more than their subordinates do. And while a good leader hears what their team members have to say; but they might not be truly listening, i.e., engaging with and processing others’ unique ideas and suggestions.
A great leader, however, really listens, carefully understands and critically evaluates to their team-mates’ individual viewpoints. Depending on the opinion’s validity, the leader might choose to adopt, ignore or offer suggestions to improve the idea, but regardless of the end result, they are genuinely interesting in processing to what their team has to say and appreciate the value of diverse viewpoints.
3. Great leaders work first for the cause, and then for the organization. They understand why they’re there
It is easier to go from being a good leader to a great leader when you’re in an organization whose end results support a cause you are passionate about. When we know that our work will make our world a better place or give us more than just power/monetary benefits, an inner desire awakens to commit ourselves wholly. This brings a new wave of enthusiasm towards our work that’s perhaps required when we want to go from being a good to a great leader. Great leaders truly understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.
So it isn’t surprising that the greatest leaders, like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have all worked towards some greater purpose; they knew why they were there.
4. Great leaders take full ownership during failure and let their team-members shine in times of success
The former Indian president and space-scientist A.P.J Abdul Kalam recounts this as a valuable lesson when he worked as a scientist in Indian Space Research Organization. He recalls how Prof. Satish Dhawan – the Chairman of ISRO under whom he once worked as a space scientist- took full responsibility at the national press conference for the SLV-3 satellite failure, instead of blaming the project’s humiliating fiasco on his team (that included Abdul Kalam himself). Great leaders, Kalam says, must know to manage success, but more importantly, to manage failure.
5. Good leaders stick to safety, but great leaders continuously learn, evaluate and are always open to change
Great leaders accept change for progress and appreciate constructive criticism. They personally are life-long learners; they always evaluate themselves, their organization and the practices in place to look for better ways of being, and doing things. They accept and seriously evaluate feedback, even when it comes from those who work under them.
6. Good leaders focus on the present, great leaders anticipate
Great leaders like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are known for their extraordinary skill in anticipating what the trends for their organization, different fields of investment etc. would look like in the future. To become a great leader we must we constantly be vigilant about the future possibilities, opportunities and risks for ourselves, our teammates and our organization so that we can make the best possible decisions in the present to steer into the right path in the future.
6. While good leaders seek more power, great leaders seek more responsibility
Great leaders love leading not because of the immense power it gives them but because of the important responsibilities it confers on them. Good leaders focus of clinching maximum power and holding onto it; in the long term, this might prove detrimental to the very organization that they are leading. On the other hand, great leaders seek more responsibility and therefore focus on addressing their responsibilities with their best efforts. This helps them deliver the most optimal results for their company and also helps them to utilize more and more of their potential. Because great leaders genuinely care about the organization and the cause they are working for, and because they don’t waste their energy in merely plotting to accumulate more power, they uplift their organizations to a new, stellar level of success.
7. Great leaders have integrity and therefore, reliability and trustworthiness.
Great leaders are trustworthy because they are honest. As integrity breeds transparency, the systems that operate under a great leader are open and therefore reliable. While good leaders might act honest, and look for the quickest way of getting things done, great leaders actually practice honesty, even if it makes a process longer and more challenging.
8. A great leader leads by example; their actions, not words set the trail for others to follow
Mahatma Gandhi motivated millions of Indians to be self-reliant by being so himself. He weaved his own khadi cloth on his spinning wheel before encouraging the masses to follow suit; he fasted, led a simple life and participated in non-violent satyagrahas (non co-operation movements) himself before propagating these practices to an entire nation. Great leaders make themselves the example. They don’t ask their team to do what they themselves wouldn’t like to.
9. Great leaders don’t simply ‘head’ the team with arrogance, the serve the team with humility
Great leaders know that to be a leader means to serve and not to boss over those who work with you. By changing their attitude to that of rendering service instead of exercising power, great leaders overcome pompousness and obtain humility. This in turn, inspires and evokes admiration and support from his/her followers, improving the performance of the entire team.
10. Great leaders think radically different. They don’t seek faster horses, they think cars.
Great leaders don’t listen to and merely improvise the idea of the crowd. Instead they think of entirely new ways by which things can be done. Henry Ford once said, “if I had listened to the customers, I would have gone looking for faster horses”. Because though people had for long, been discussing the idea of a horseless carriage for transportation in Henry Ford’s time, they only ask faster horses for better transportation from Ford’s company. But as a great, creative leader, Ford came with an entirely new approach for more efficient locomotion: cars.
Featured photo credit: Marc nozell via flickr.com