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Why A True Leader Doesn’t Need to Be the Smartest and Most Talented One

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Why A True Leader Doesn’t Need to Be the Smartest and Most Talented One

Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn all have one thing in common: They’re widely regarded as some of the best leaders in the world today.

But what really makes a great leader?

Is it about knowing how to manage – or is it something entirely different?

What Everyone Is Wrong About Leadership

You may assume that great leadership is all about management – but you would be mistaken.

As you’ll see shortly, leadership encompasses much more than just good management skills.

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However, before we dive into exactly what makes a great leader, let’s first take a look at some of the common myths about leadership:

  • Great leaders can be trained – While knowledge can be valuable, leadership is more about attitude.
  • Great leaders only give orders – Giving orders will at times be necessary, but powerful leadership inspires actions.
  • Great leaders know everything – This may appear to be true, but in reality, great leaders are learning all the time.
  • Great leaders never fail – It’s impossible to achieve great success, without experiencing many failures along the way.
  • Great leaders work alone – You may think of a leader as a lone wolf, but in most cases, leaders love to work with others.

Hopefully, as you’re beginning to see, real leadership is not about macho posturing and dictatorial management.

What True Leadership Really Means

So, what exactly is true leadership?

John Quincy Adams described it this way:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

It’s an excellent quote, that I’m sure will help you to gain a new perspective on leadership.

Whether it’s politics, business or social causes – great leaders have a definite vision, and know how to inspire and motivate others to help realize that vision.

They do this through traits such as:

  • Promoting values.
  • Encouraging creativity.
  • Building morale.
  • Offering guidance.
  • Fostering initiative.

As an example for you, do you remember Mahatma Gandhi?

He was able to change the destiny of India by using true leadership characteristics such as: determination, humility, honesty and non-violence. His authentic manner and powerful beliefs led to millions of people following and supporting his cause.[1]

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What Makes up a Great Leadership

While the world’s top leaders may be hard to emulate, fortunately, there are several things you can do to begin boosting your leadership qualities.

Let’s take a look…

1. Treat your staff like you expect them to treat your customers.

If you expect your team to be friendly and courteous to customers – then make sure you’re the same with your team members. I remember a manager telling me: “Staff should always be treated like customers.” Adopt this attitude, and your team (and other teams) will be motivated and inspired by your leadership.

2. Practice things that you’re uncomfortable with.

To be a great leader, you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone. If you’re uncomfortable with networking or public speaking (for example), then work on strengthening your skills in these areas. Instead of learning on the job, why not enlist the help of a coach or mentor?

3. Stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends.

Let’s face it, change is the new norm in the 21st century. Whatever your niche or industry, no doubt there are constant amendments, updates and innovations happening daily. As a leader, you need to be aware of these changes. However, don’t become a news junkie, instead, learn to seek out the key trends.

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4. Grow yourself, grow your team.

Stop and think about your personal growth. Does it positively impact your team? Of course it does. But you can take this even further by making sure your staff have continual training and development opportunities. Here’s a suggestion for you… Why not take your team to an industry conference, so they can learn and be inspired by some of the best and most successful people. This is a win-win situation. You and your team will both gain valuable knowledge and skills. And you’ll also be helping to promote a healthy team spirit.

5. Learn to keep promises.

Your credibility can be crushed by unfulfilled promises, such as giving your team an expectation of financial bonuses – that never materialize. To be a successful leader, you must always try to keep your promises. Sure, it takes discipline and integrity to achieve this. But in the long term, it will definitely be worth it.

6. Set inspiring goals.

Outstanding leaders always have goals and aims that they are working towards. These could be financial goals, subscriber numbers, or even customer satisfaction targets. Of course, goals can be big, small, short or long term. But you must have them, if you want to achieve success. If your staff know the specific goals that you want to achieve – this will help and inspire them to assist you in reaching these goals.

7. Seek honest feedback.

It’s not easy listening to honest feedback, but often it’s the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Rather than waiting for unsolicited feedback, go ahead and ask your staff and customers what they really think about you and your leadership style. You could also ask them whether they have any suggestions for building your effectiveness as a leader. Just remember, great leaders are not afraid to listen to criticism. Instead, they look on this feedback as an opportunity for learning.

You may not be a natural born leader – but by following the above suggestions you’ll be able to progressively develop your leadership qualities.

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Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

[1] History: Mohandas Gandi

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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