After last night’s drastic reshuffling of the South African cabinet (read more), one of the things that I have always found interesting is again top of mind: how ministers can move from one portfolio to another so easily. Is it not necessary to have some kind of qualification, experience and expertise in a specific field in order to be the minister?
Of course the minister has to drive political policy and hopefully will be surrounded with a capable team to ensure that the portfolio is a successful operation when it comes to budget, fulfilling its brief and most importantly complying with the constitution.
While it definitely helps to also be a winemaker when you are the CEO of a wine company, I know that it is not a prerequisite. Sometimes coming from a different industry brings fresh perspective and new inspiration. More than relevant industry background, there are other qualities that are non-negotiable when it comes to good leadership.
Honesty, Integrity & Transparency
Whatever ethical plane you hold yourself to, when you are responsible for a team of people, it’s important to raise the bar even higher. Your business and its employees are a reflection of yourself, and if you make honest and ethical behaviour a key value, your team will follow suit.
“It’s true that imitation is one of the greatest forms of flattery, but not when it comes to leadership—and every great leader in my life, from Mike Tomlin to Olympic ski coach Scott Rawles, led from a place of authenticity. Learn from others, read autobiographies of your favourite leaders, pick up skills along the way… but never lose your authentic voice, opinions and, ultimately, how you make decisions.” —Jeremy Bloom, cofounder and CEO, Integrate
“It’s a lot easier to assign blame than to hold yourself accountable. But if you want to know how to do it right, learn from financial expert Larry Robbins. He wrote a genuinely humble letter to his investors about his bad judgment that caused their investments to falter. He then opened up a new fund without management and performance fees—unheard of in the hedge fund world. This is character. This is accountability. It’s not only taking responsibility; it’s taking the next step to make it right.” —Sandra Carreon-John, senior vice president, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment
Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale. Keep up your confidence level, and assure everyone that setbacks are natural and the important thing is to focus on the larger goal. As the leader, by staying calm and confident, you will help keep the team feeling the same.
In order to optimize your effectiveness as a leader, you must have the ability to connect with people and to customize your approach on a person by person basis, based on the situation at hand. Your capacity to execute this concept will play a huge role in your ability to get the best work out of your team and other partners along he journey.
Morale is linked to productivity, and it’s your job as the team leader to instil a positive energy.
Intuition & insightfulness
Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.
“It takes insight every day to be able to separate that which is really important from all the incoming fire. It’s like wisdom—it can be improved with time, if you’re paying attention, but it has to exist in your character. It’s inherent. When your insight is right, you look like a genius. And when your insight is wrong, you look like an idiot.” —Raj Bhakta, founder, WhistlePig Whiskey
Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is extremely important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working towards the same goal.
Delegate & Empower
Finessing your brand vision is essential to creating an organized and efficient business, but if you don’t learn to trust your team with that vision, you might never progress to the next stage. The key to delegation is identifying the strengths of your team, and capitalizing on them.
“Giving away responsibilities isn’t always easy. It can actually be harder to do than completing the task yourself, but with the right project selection and support, delegating can pay off in dividends. It is how you truly find people’s capabilities and get the most out of them.” —Shannon Pappas, senior vice president, Beachbody LIVE
Commit & Lead by example
If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level. By proving your commitment to the brand and your role, you will not only earn the respect of your team, but will also instil that same hardworking energy among your staff.
You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision. This is where your innovation and creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance.
Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company. Being able to inspire your team is great for focusing on the future goals, but it is also important for the current issues.
“It’s been said that leadership is making important but unpopular decisions. That’s certainly a partial truth, but I think it underscores the importance of focus. To be a good leader, you cannot major in minor things, and you must be less distracted than your competition. To get the few critical things done, you must develop incredible selective ignorance. Otherwise, the trivial will drown you.” —Tim Ferriss, bestselling author, host of The Tim Ferriss Show
“A great leader once told me, ‘persistence beats resistance.’ And after working at Facebook, Intel and Microsoft and starting my own company, I’ve learned two major lessons: All great things take time, and you must persist no matter what. That’s what it takes to be a leader: willingness to go beyond where others will stop.” —Noah Kagan, Chief Sumo, appsumo