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Leadership is a team sport

Do you remember a great leader?

Think back through your working history. Think of every leader you’ve had, since the first job you took in your youth, to the leadership team that supports you where you are now. Think about those you were pleased to see the back of, and those who still inspire you today. What traits do you want to embody in your own leadership position?

Some leaders are too hard, too controlling, and too anxious to be seen to be in charge to remember how to actually connect with their team. Others take it too far the other way, wanting so much to be liked and popular with their team that they forget to…well, lead!

The world of business has changed, and continues to evolve – but the traits that made the best leaders great are unshakable.

Traits like confidence, intelligence, industry awareness and drive – of course – but these without the balance of humility, charm and compassion could make a leader come across arrogant, rather than successful, and the latter without the first makes it harder to earn respect if you dance around the tougher aspects of the job.

Every success we have has been achieved because of a team of people – nobody gets to the top of their game alone. Success isn’t a solo mission. And any leader who wants to seem that they got there alone, and lord it over their workforce, can’t last long in their role.

And if success is a team effort, successful leadership owes much credit to the whole workforce. Leaders set the pace, guide the way, bring the team forward and drive the success of the organisation – but in order to do that well, they must have the support and respect of their team.

Some leaders are so keen to prove that they are on top that they forget the shoulders they stand on to be where they are…

What is a toxic leader?

A toxic leader – one who takes the credit for every win but blames anyone – everyone – else for every failing, and who can’t recognise or acknowledge that we all have gaps in our knowledge and rely on the unification of the whole team and the skills that everyone brings to make one cohesive whole – is going to cause a lot of damage.

A toxic leader chips away at the confidence and abilities of their workforce, at the success of their brand, and at the reputation of the organisation with clients. The determination to stand atop the organisation and be the face of the brand, and be applauded, can see a leader forgetting to look down at their feet, and at the bodies who are holding them up.

At the opposite end of the scale, a weak leader who is so keen to be liked and to be ‘nice’ that they will do anything to avoid the more difficult conversations that their position requires are just as damaging. A leader who can’t push, drive, improve and draw on the skills and successes of their team – and who can’t question the failings of any team members who aren’t pulling their weight – will see their business drift away to failure.

Everyone – from the intern to the MD – has an important role within any business – and to be a leader you have previously been led; learn from the experience you have with your leaders, with your workforce, and with your whole team – don’t repeat mistakes made by aggressive, controlling leaders from your own past – but don’t go too far the other way and become weakened by a desire to be liked above being successful; don’t let strong, determined members of your team walk all over you.

Great leadership is a dance. There is a line between being part of the team – well thought of, respected and admired – and dominating the team – taking all the credit and insisting that you’re the best, know the most and deserve all the praise. There is also a line between being respected and being ‘nice’ – and a point at which people lose respect and begin to take advantage.

Leadership is a process, an evolution, a growth from who you were to who you have the potential to be – and an important part of the job is helping your workforce to walk that same journey with you, growing together as a cohesive whole, but doing so from the front of the crowd, carried by them without crushing them beneath the weight of your ego, and not lost among them as you battle to keep up

Our leadership programmes enable the growth and development of innate talent and support your business leaders in their ongoing journey to success. Call today on 01234 757575 or visit our Leadership Development page to download an information pack.

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