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7 Reasons Why Some People Are Great Leaders

7 Reasons Why Some People Are Great Leaders

According to American scholar Warren Bennis, leadership can be defined as “the capacity to translate vision into reality”. There have been numerous examples of this throughout history, from military conflicts and humanitarian projects, to the worlds of commerce and business. Take the British manufacturing sector, for example, in which companies led a remarkable recovery after outsourcing had triggered a rapid decline. As a result, UK manufacturing now employs more than 2.5 million people and accounts for an impressive 52 % of all national exports.

This underlines how good and strong leadership can drive positive change, even in the most challenging of circumstances. It also offers an insight into the qualities needed to make a great leader, many of which have fundamental value that can be transferred across various worlds and industries. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the reasons that distinguish individuals as great leaders.

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1. They Can Inspire Trust from Those Around Them

Despite many of the trappings that are associated with leadership, the successful direction of others has nothing to do with status, titles or seniority. Instead, it is driven by an innate ability to inspire trust from those around you, whether this is through honest communication or physical example. If you are able to achieve this, you can influence others and maximize their potential while also enabling them to share in your unique vision.

2. They Continually look to Evolve and Improve

Rather than wilting under the pressure of challenging tasks or exercises, those with leadership qualities tend to thrive and achieve greater heights. Statistics also suggest that 70 % of leaders learned their most important lessons through challenging assignments and unexpected job changes, and this underlines their willingness to constantly improve and use hardship as a way of driving their evolution.

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3. They are Passionate and Focused

Maintaining the drive to continually evolve as an individual can be difficult, but leaders can often rely on their passion and focus when negating difficult times. Heartfelt passion provides them with the motivation to keep going when they face considerable challenges, for example, while an ability to maintain focus ensures that their positive energy is used constructively. Such enthusiasm is also authentic and infectious, meaning that it will draw others to share in your goals.

4. They Take Ownership of Strategic and Mission Critical Tasks

The world is littered with fascinating tales from our intrepid entrepreneurs, with one concerning Richard Branson particularly interesting. After being challenged by his aunt that he couldn’t learn to swim during a family holiday, Branson urged his father to pull over on the way home and jumped into a nearby river before swimming to shore. He won the bet, and underlined the fearless nature that leaders must adopt if they are to succeed over time . In business terms, this translates into a willingness to take ownership of strategic and mission critical tasks before executing these under extreme pressure.

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5. They are Never Satisfied

Richard Branson is particularly interesting as an entrepreneur, as he clearly embodies many of the traits required for natural leadership. Not only is he fearless when conceiving ideas and bringing them to fruition, but he is also never satisfied and constantly looks to embark on new and exciting projects. This ethos is also reflected in the way in which specific work tasks and projects are approached, as true leaders never stand still and are always seeking future growth opportunities, however they may arise.

6. They are Driven by the Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is an often discussed psychological concept, although it is also misunderstood in many instances. Although it can be detrimental if this fear becomes all-consuming, true leaders use this as an engine to drive their endeavors and achieve future success. This fear then becomes a purposeful motivational tool, and one which has the potential to drive greater levels of effort and output. Great leaders can also put this psychological outlook into action, by maintaining this drive even after they have failed or fallen short of their expectations.

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7. They Communicate Openly and with Humility

While leadership is a serious subject, the greatest practitioners throughout history have always had a keen sense of wit and humor. Think of the great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example, whose humorous quips and quotations are legendary and have managed to transcend generations. Wittiness is particularly important, as it showcases humility and an appreciation for self-depreciation, which in turn eliminates status and social classes. It is also an entry point into an honest and open relationship, where leaders are able to speak authoritatively and also listen intently to others’ needs.

Featured photo credit: Ogwen Cottage Mountains via upload.wikimedia.org

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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