Who is a Genuine Inspiring Leader ?
There are multiple definitions & interpretations of leadership, but there is one that resonates with me completely. “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence” … Sheryl Sandberg quoted this in her book “Lean In”. I also came across this interesting article which helps put the definition of a leader in perspective – https://www.chieflearningofficer.com/2020/01/06/what-is-leadership-and-who-is-a-leader/. So how do you define an Inspiring Leader?
An Inspirational leader’s real value is not a measure of the work he/she does. A leader’s true value is a measure of the work he/she inspires others to do. Inspirational leadership is not a mere good pin-board for me. I can say this confidently as I have experienced working with amazingly wonderful leaders in my 22+ years of professional life.
In these 22+ years, I have come across so many leaders who have influenced my style of working. I have learned “What to do” & more importantly “What NOT to do” from all these leaders & am very thankful. They have all taught me how to be a genuine & inspiring leader. This piece is my tribute to them and also probably a practical lesson for all the “wannabe” leaders out there.
Genuine Inspiring Leader has these 7 Proven Traits
There are 7 proven traits of inspiring leaders, and I call these SEVEN ~ to the Power of Infinity. These traits or qualities, once cultivated, can have an infinite impact on the leader as well as the people being led.
So here we go with my Top 7:
- Delegate & Empower
As per Steve Jobs – “Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people.” To take this further, this team needs to be trusted & empowered to make the decisions they deem fit. I have had my leaders trust me for some of the most significant & complex projects & stakeholder interactions. Did I falter…yes, but their continuous faith in me lead me on the journey to move ahead and excel. This is also an important life lesson which I have covered in my blog 5 Essential Life lessons you need to know. A true leader believes in his people and their capabilities.
2. Be Humane
Just because we work with dry numbers & targets, we don’t have to start treating our people like machines with target labels. To acknowledge every individual with respect, irrespective of their designation is an important trait that I picked up during my initial years at work. Whether it is your tech colleague who ensures that your email is working or the pantry guy who gives you your hot cup of coffee, all deserve respect & a “Thank you”. Acknowledgment & appreciation of the role they play in the organization can be the single biggest influencer in the loyalty pyramid. But that’s not all.
3. Step Out From Your Ivory Towers
As we climb up the corporate ladder, we lose touch with what’s happening on the ground whether it’s our operations, clients, and most importantly, our people. We must go beyond the so-called 30,000ft. view & understand the pulse of the business & people, both internal as well as external. We need to draw our inferences apart from inputs from so-called SMEs. This may seem to be micromanagement to some but believe me, I have leaders using this trait to turn around projects & businesses.
4. Reply Back
It seems very basic, but I have seen the best of leaders not replying to emails, phone calls, and messages. This is a basic courtesy we owe to any individual who is reaching out to us, again irrespective of grades. The content of the revert is irrelevant. What is important is the acknowledgement & and probably an answer which can be as simple as “ I will call back”. I have worked with leaders who are very particular in responding even if it’s a one-word reply. Remember you can have all the right strategy in the world, but if you don’t have the right culture, you’re dead. And it starts with the basics for an inspiring leader. Think about it.
5. Network & Connect
This was something that was drilled into me consistently by my leaders. And I realized it’s worth time & again during my corporate journey. Networking is not about collecting contacts; networking is about planting symbiotic relations which lead to a win-win for both parties. This is especially true if your success is determined by how well you work with various stakeholders & their success. I firmly believe corporate hierarchies are made only for ease of execution & escalation. One needs to reach out to people irrespective of hierarchies and levels.
6. I am Invincible
This thought is equivalent to committing corporate hara-kiri. No one is irreplaceable, no matter how good you are. Therefore it’s essential to be grounded and be humble. In Donald Walter’s words “ Leadership is an opportunity to serve. It is not a trumpet call to self-importance”. And an inspiring leader knows this.
7. Have Passion
Whenever I hire a new entrant in my team, I only have one ask from him/her. And that is “ the day you stop liking what you are doing; you need to let me know”. This is because I strongly feel that people give their best only when they have a passion for their work. Your team should look forward to coming back the next day irrespective of the challenges, difficulties & stiff deadlines. The only way to do great work is to love what you do!
I think all the leaders have the above qualities apart from many more. And that’s the reason they have reached where they are today. As you will observe, these are no super-human qualities and a leader who inspires is not a superhero with a cape. But he is someone who practices everyday leadership. How a leader reacts to a particular situation & which quality he/she demonstrates at that moment of truth elevates him/her from a good to an inspiring leader. And the only way to show gratitude to such leaders is to pass these on to our teams so that the “Tribe “ grows!!
I want to end this with a video that truly captures the essence of leadership with a simple analogy.
A Genuine Inspiring Leader believes in the POWER OF INFINITE. And armed with these 7 Traits has an Infinite Impact on the people he leads!!
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