IN his blog, Sir Richard Branson says there is a difference between being a leader and being a boss.
What makes a person a great leader? Is he or she the one willing to take the business down a path not tread before?
Is he or she the one big enough to admit to a mistake?
Is he or she the one who has their door open to staff and an ability to listen to grievances and challenges?
And what do staff look for in a business leader?
Here are five traits that make a great business leader:
Rocking the boat
In his book, ‘The Virgin Way’, Branson, the English entrepreneur whose Virgin Group comprises more than 400 companies, says, that good leadership is about taking the venture forward and finding viable avenues where the business can evolve and prosper.
He goes on to say that poor leadership tends to be static and that the ‘don’t rock the boat’ approach may have been a viable business model 20 years ago, but not today.
Branson, the adventurer and philanthropist, has often thought outside the box. He seems to have broken rules and by doing so not only has he taken his company to great heights but also lives life on his own terms. He is the leader who enjoys life to the fullest.
His personality can be glimpsed on his Twitter account in which he is described as a “tie-loathing adventurer” and someone who “believes in turning ideas into reality’.
A good leader would not let issues and problems bog him or her down. If a problem presents itself, they would focus energy on finding the solution. No problem is too big or too complicated. Try to find the solution and people will follow your lead.
A good leader would also take the input of employees to see what fresh solutions can be explored to bring the issue to a successful conclusion. Taking input from employees when you are stumped is not a sign of weakness but a sign of being inclusive.
A great leader gives credit where it is due, and acknowledges the work and input from staff. A figurative pat on the back goes a long way towards staff morale.
Communication is one of the important factors in the running of any organisation.
So a great leader would know how to communicate effectively with staff, how to keep them in the loop about matters that affect them and inform them about the strides the company is making.
A good leader would know what to say, how much to say and how to say it. Besides the content of the message, delivery of the message is important.
Staff look to leaders for guidance. And delivery of the message means not only sending it across in an effective manner, but also ensuring that staff know what the core message is all about.
A great leader must clearly understand the vision of the organisation. He or she should know where the company is headed, what the goals and targets it seeks to achieve. Only when the leader knows the walk, can he or she walk the walk.
Having a vision of the company’s future is one half of the case. Being able to share what that vision is, where the company is headed and what is in store for all involved with it, is the other half.
A leader also sticks to the principles that guide the company to that end goal, to that vision.
Employees look to leaders for guidance and governance. A good leader acts like a guiding light for employees on how to behave and perform.
Leaders could inspire others by their actions, by being good role models in the way they handle situations and solve problems.
Being a good role model encompasses so much of behaviour in the workplace – it could be the manner they conduct themselves, the way they approach a problem, they way they deal with staff.
Everything they do, everything they say, employees look to them for reaction, for motivation and for inspiration.
So a great leader would not only lead the way but would also be the first to acknowledge a mistake and give staff credit where it is due.