There are two convincing reasons for strong leadership. The first is that people want strong leaders. In a company environment they want to know that their leaders have a focused direction and that the business is secure because of it. Secure employees will perform better, contributing to the company’s success and sustainability.
Second, according to the research of Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, there is a direct relationship between leadership and business success. “Collins has identified two core qualities that make a great leader,” says Professor Jonathan Jansen, the rector of the University of the Free State and a local thought leader and advocate of strong leadership.
“These qualities are a deep sense of personal humility and moral purpose. His research supports the fact that companies whose leaders display these qualities were more likely to survive and even grow during downturns.
“The 21st century leader can no longer dominate as leaders of the past have. The rise of a democratic ethos means that people need to be persuaded to follow leaders and leaders need to win their trust and admiration.”
Professor Jansen’s four core traits of leadership
1. Credible leadership
Great leaders must have the capacity to be believed. People follow credible leaders, but in order to be credible, leaders must be honest and trustworthy. Communicate openly and honestly with your staff. Even if the news isn’t always good, as long as your employees believe you have their best interests at heart they will continue to follow you.
2. Compassionate leadership
It’s as important for a leader to be able to make money as it is to have the capacity to give back to others. People might be selfish, but they also care about the world and their fellow man. Corporations throughout the world are working hard to restore corporate credibility. Even if your company does not have a global impact, your employees and clients expect you to care. Companies need to have a human face as well as a corporate image, and this begins with the leader.
3. Courageous leadership
Stand up for what you believe in. Whether you are a business owner with partners or shareholders, or a corporate manager, if your company is operating in a grey ethical area, do not be afraid to speak up for change. In today’s business landscape ethical issues are not only real, they can destroy a company. Stand up and be counted. You will not only garner respect because of it, you might save your company in the process.
4. Counter-cultural leadership
The world is full of mediocre companies that follow trends and never challenge the norm. But it’s the business people and companies that have challenged the norm — like Richard Branson — who have changed the way business is done and grown empires in the process. Defying group logic and thinking out of the box can lead to business solutions that would not have been found simply by doing what’s always been done. Being willing to go against cultural expectations can reap big rewards. But counter-cultural leadership cannot be a once-off. It’s a continuous process, as the new soon becomes the norm and needs to be challenged again. Be willing to work against the norm because it will open new possibilities, not just for the sake of being otherwise.
We all have leaders who inspire us. Why not become that leader within your workspace? You, your company and your employees will reap the rewards if you do.
Leaders know what their mission is. They know why the organisation exists. A superior leader has a well thought out (often written) mission describing the purpose of the organisation.
Where do you want your organisation to go? A vision needs to be abstract enough to encourage people to imagine it but concrete enough for followers to see it.
How is the organisation going to achieve its mission and vision and how will you measure your progress? Like a vision, goals need to be operational; that is, specific and measurable.
Quite often, employees need someone to look up to for direction, guidance, and motivation. The entrepreneur needs to be that person.
Resting on your laurels is bad for employee morale and entrepreneurial credibility. Employees need to be constantly striving for improvement and success; and they need to see the same and more in their leaders.