In my 25 years of managing and leading construction projects, I have found that there are 5 Key Factors of Great Leadership.
It is safe to say that the greatest leaders exhibit similar qualities and traits. Traits that make them stand out from the crowd. Qualities that take them from the “ordinary” to the “extraordinary”.
And yet, despite what we all may think, these traits are not especially difficult to identify or learn. Where the difference occurs is that some of us choose to apply these traits – and others do not.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the key factors.
Key Factor 1 – They Understand What Leadership Is
Many people say that leadership is about having a vision, it’s having the courage to face the toughest battles, it’s about having credibility, or having that steely determination to get things done.
My view is that the greatest leaders of our time have had a combination of all of these things. However, they have also realised that leadership is first and foremost all about people.
Without people to lead, there can be no leader – no matter how much vision, or courage, or credibility, or determination you have.
You see, a leader’s greatest compliment and achievement is his or her followers, and followers will reflect a leader’s positive values and vision.
What do I mean by this? Well – the vision, the courage, the determination and the honesty of the truly great leaders is always reflected through the actions of those that choose to follow that leader.
Great leaders recognise the importance of this. Subsequently, they give direction, provide a purpose, provide guidance and help to deliver a sense of achievement.
Your followers need to understand where your heading, why you’re going there, how they can help you and what the ultimate reward will be.
Key Factor 2 – They Think “Big Picture”.
Great leaders have a Purpose and intimately know and understand where they are going. They are clear on their “Why” and their ultimate goal.
They have taken the time and effort to really understand what they value most in life, the life (or business) they want to build, what they want that to look like and what legacy they want to leave behind.
Great leaders effectively plan out their life whilst most of us struggle to plan out our days.
Once they are clear on their Purpose, they will provide clear direction and let their followers know where it is they are taking them.
You need to understand that if the Purpose is the Ultimate Destination, then the Direction is the Road Map to how they are going to get there.
Key Factor 3 – They Build Significance and Trust
Nothing motivates more than feeling like you are worthwhile and important.
I mean, how good do you feel when you are made to feel this way? That what you have done has made a difference. That your actions are important to the business and are recognised as such.
You see, great leaders genuinely believe followers are valuable and important. This cannot be made up. Your followers will sense it and then you will lose them.
When they feel this genuine level of trust and significance, they will want to perform and reward your faith in them.
We need to recognise that motivation for the follower is just as important as the direction. They require a meaningful reward for following and achieving the tasks.
By honouring and acknowledging achievement, you’ll always have followers – it gives people a sense of purpose and significance. Continuous reinforcement of your belief and appreciation of the effort they put in will always go a long way. Many of us are too quick to punish bad behaviour but not as quick to reward the good.
Always remember that Purpose Motivates. Tasks Accomplish.
Your followers won’t feel a sense of significance by accomplishing tasks. But, if there is a reward attached to the goal, just watch the motivation factor go through the roof if they are part of the reason why the leader achieved that goal.
Key Factor 4 – They Avoid Procrastination
In a previous blog, I focused on the critical importance of being decisive and having the ability to delegate tasks and responsibilities.
Great leaders avoid procrastination like the plague (or Covid-19 to make it more relevant to today). They know that it can quite simply mean the difference between business success and ultimate failure.
They review the facts currently at hand, make an assessment of those facts and make a decision. Pure and simple right?
And yet the majority of people cannot do this without second guessing. Or waiting for tomorrow. Maybe hoping someone else will make the decision.
Great leaders know that if they make a wrong decision, that they can change that decision. After all, a wrong decision is merely a learning experience on the road to the right outcome.
Key Factor 5 – They Grow the Next Generation
Great Leaders take the time to work with and train the next generation in their business. They recognise that this is the only way that they can remove themselves from the day to day tasks that eat away at their time.
They coach, guide and mentor their future leaders by providing the necessary encouragement, being supportive, allowing initiative and sharing ownership of the overall Vision and Goals of the business.
People are always quick to criticise but very slow to praise. Great leaders provide encouragement to their team by continual positive reinforcement. They do not criticise in public and they provide their advice and knowledge when it is required.
When it comes to the team, they always “have their back” and are there when needed. They provide an environment where their followers will not be scared to put their ideas forward, no matter how crazy those ideas might be.
Ultimately, they help the team to take on ownership of the vision and treat it like it’s their own.
Being a truly great leader is all about leading the right way by example and guiding your followers to be the leaders of tomorrow for your business.
Don’t be dictatorial. Be mindful that you don’t “talk the talk” and not “walk the walk”. Show humility and don’t be afraid to admit when you have got it wrong.
Ultimately, it’s about being the sort of leader that you would follow.
So – if you’re an aspiring leader who wants to take their leadership skills to the next level, my advice would be to take the time to study the 5 Key Factors of Leadership.
Immerse yourself in them and you will be well on the path to becoming a great leader yourself.
Go on – what are you waiting for?