I never really thought of myself as a leader, I think it just happened. As my career progressed so did my necessity to lead. I see this as distinctly different from being a manager which essentially comes down to the motivation the people who work for you and can play a huge part in driving the success of the other things that you do.
In my career I have been fortunate enough to work with and meet some great leaders, in addition some not so good leaders. For me what makes the difference between a good and bad leader is all down to behaviours. Some of which stem from an individual’s personality, skills and knowledge. Others that are learned as we grow and develop into more rounded quality professionals.
So, do good behaviours make for a good leader? In short yes, I think they do. Some of the best leaders I have worked for have good behaviours and qualities, however that doesn’t mean that they have no bad behaviours at all. No leader no matter how great is perfect, we are all human and therefore flawed. So ultimately what’s important is having a balance which tips more in favour of the good behaviours. In addition being able to identify those behaviours that could be inhibiting your leadership skills, development and sometimes relationships.
So what makes a good leader for me personally…
Good behaviours and qualities:
Being enthusiastic – I think for Quality professionals this is sometimes not easy. We deliver bad news, we keep people in line with the rules and we are the conscience of the organisation. However whilst this isn’t easy because of what we do it is even more important that we are enthusiastic about what we do.
Credibility and acting with integrity – There is something to be said for knowing what you are talking about and being honest enough to say, “I don’t know” to questions you don’t have the answers for. Some of the most influential leaders in my own personal experience have taught me the importance of credibility. Equally as important is remaining true to your cause and acting with integrity.
Clear vision – Great Leaders are those who are followed and for this to be a success there must be a clear vision. A unified sense of purpose and direction that brings the followers together is essential if you are to achieve your desired results.
Adaptability – Being able to adapt is essential to a great Leader. To listen to the needs of others and be able to be influenced in the right way can be very powerful. Adapting to changes in direction and environment are equally as important as these are what ensures a project will stay on track in the face of adversity.
Communication & Listening – This will not be a surprise to any reader as communication is key to all good business practices. A great leader should be clear and sometimes firm with their message but also fair and prepared to listen to reason.
And what is a turn off…
Bad behaviours and qualities:
Poor people skills – Knowledge of systems and process alone is not enough. We need to be able to explain ourselves, present information to others in way that they understand and be able to influence others to achieve the right results. Poor people skills are an inhibitor to this.
Self-promotion in the wrong way – I am all for raising profile, in fact I think it is key in career progression. However, self-promotion should be done in the right way not at the expense of others around you. Taking credit for work that isn’t your own doesn’t earn you respect with your colleagues and can also mean they doubt your credibility as a professional.
Do as I say not as I do – lead by example – A great leader will never expect others to do something that they wouldn’t be prepared to do themselves. This isn’t to say a leader must be skilled in everything they are responsible for but they should be prepared to understand the important things and champion this for their followers.
Lack of passion – Compliance isn’t the sexiest subject, but it is essential to good business, it is therefore vital that it is sold to the business as such. So many times, I have heard, well we just can’t buy in for that or no-one listens, and ultimately, I believe this is down to lack of passion. If you want to achieve something you must be passionate about, your passion and enthusiasm will rub off on those around you and in turn people end up bought into and excited about things they never thought they would show an interest in.
Lack of professionalism – There is a fine line in sharing your thoughts and opinions and knowing when and how to behave is key. If you are too honest you run the risk of your opinion being misconstrued and if you are too guarded others will you think you aren’t open with them. This balancing act is key is being a great leader.
So, this World Quality Day why not ask yourself which traits you have? Are there things you have learned from others? Are there areas you could improve on? All of which is food for thought in helping to make you a better leader, I will certainly be doing some homework this World Quality Day.