By: René Otto, CEO, MiWay Insurance
A good leader articulates a clear aspirational vision of the future and inspires the team to move towards it.
A leader’s success is measured by the results of the team. The crucial question, however, is how to inspire the team to move towards the vision?
A good leader understands the crucial link between culture and performance. John Buchan articulated it perfectly when he said “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there”. In my mind, the most effective way of eliciting the greatness of people is to create a strong values-based culture that encourages them to fulfil their true potential.
It starts with me. If I want to lead, I must be authentic. I must be trustworthy and consistent. I must walk the talk. “What you see is what you get”. And, importantly, I stand next to you in the trenches. We are in this together. We are family, brothers and sisters.
It is more important to appeal to people’s hearts than their minds. The team needs to know that the leader cares. That means I must be a decent human being, listen, be available, be approachable, remove obstacles and show kindness. People are not machines. They have families, dreams, hopes and fears. Understanding and recognizing that is crucial. A leader is essentially a servant. Not a boss. Not a ruler. This leadership quality became very relevant during the coronavirus pandemic, where Napoleon Bonaparte’s words – “A leader is a dealer in hope” comes to mind.
Everyone loves success, but people are often scared to take risks. A good leader challenges the team to move out of their comfort zones, to take calculated risks, and to taste success. A good leader stimulates a vigorous debate of the business case, sets stretched targets, doesn’t tolerate mediocrity, rewards the right behaviour and recognises big and small achievements. A good leader does not apportion blame and always “plays the ball, not the man”.
The difference between good and bad leaders is often determined by courage. A good leader is not scared to make difficult decisions and – very importantly – take accountability for the consequences.
Moreover, a good leader has the courage to admit and apologise for mistakes. And to give second chances to those who take accountability for their mistakes.