40% of workers in the UK aren’t happy with their leadership at work. The figure is similar across Europe and in the U.S.
Are you surprised? How do you feel about your boss – would you describe them as a leader?
We’re so used to having the word ‘Leader’ assigned to individuals and authorities that we don’t respect or trust.
Donald Trump says Boris Johnson would be 'excellent' Tory leader https://t.co/kVEwBy1w9H
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) May 31, 2019
In many cases it’s become synonymous with ‘authority’ and that feels like a problem for me. The word is used so often and loosely that it becomes difficult to actually define what it means. (Spoiler: leadership has nothing to do with being successful, authoritative or wealthy).
So I thought I’d share the following three traits, which are shared by those I consider to be leaders.
1. A leader encourages, inspires and enables the people around them to be the best version of themselves.
It’s easy to feel threatened when your peers and colleagues grow and exceed you. Leaders embrace this and encourage it.
Bill Gates: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
By empowering and enabling those around you to become more knowledgeable than yourself, you are creating a stronger team.
2. A leader creates an environment where everyone feels comfortable and safe.
Think about how you behave when you meet a completely new group of people, perhaps at a networking event. It’s in our nature to try to fit in and comply with the group’s common likes and dislikes.
Now imagine how you behave when you’re with close friends or family. You’re far less guarded and are more likely to share opinions and thoughts which may not be reciprocated, but will certainly be respected and accepted. This is how a leader makes you feel.
Everyone in the leader’s group shares a mutual respect and acceptance of one another. Differences in personality, race, religion, political opinion, sexuality and personal interests aren’t threats – they’re strength.
Each member of the group feels comfortable sharing thoughts and opinions; being themselves; and asking for help without feeling inferior.
3. A leader prioritises the welfare of their team above their own personal gain.
I used to work at a startup. The business ultimately folded, but the experience was profound in defining what I believe to be good leadership.
One of the founders was (is) a bit of a dickhead. He was sharp, driven, immensely intelligent and borderline arrogant. And he is one of the most inspirational people I have ever worked with.
This sounds like it shouldn’t make sense, so let me explain. He spent hours bailing out my silly mistakes; correcting me; teaching me new skills. His life would certainly have been easier had he just replaced me, but instead he chose to empower me and further my career at his own personal expense.
Take any leader, whether real or fictional, and apply the above criteria – I’m sure they’ll satisfy them. And if not, let me know – I’d love to hear what other people think about.