Most of us will probably remember the best manager we have worked with. But what made him or her so memorable or impactful? I am sure they had the knowledge and ability, although those qualities are most probably different from what we typically remember them for. Instead, we've found that attributes such as influence, integrity, courage, and respect are traits that describe what good leadership looks like. Great leaders build great teams by helping their colleagues grow into better professionals. General Dwight Eisenhower once said, "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want to be done because he wants to do it."
Developing leadership skills doesn't just prepare you for a promotion; they're necessary to become a better leader — and the best way to improve an organisation as a whole in the process. What competencies of leadership development should any leader sharpen to become successful?
Leaders of Others are leaders who inspire and motivate colleagues to achieve an organisation's vision, mission, and business goals. Leadership practices and qualities aren't only crucial for leaders and colleagues. Your leadership style establishes the tone and affects the company's work culture. And culture powers an organisation's vision and mission.
Culture is like fuel to everything a company does, and employees are more than cogs in a machine. They must feel connected to each other and the mission while knowing exactly how they can impact the organisation and its achievements. Ideally, colleagues should be well-trained and developed to be leaders in their roles and to collaborate within a team.
“A great leader will understand the importance of building a strong team and be able to identify and develop talents for the future.”
I have always believed that learning should be part of an organisation's cultural values. All colleagues should be encouraged to seek out development opportunities that their manager oversees, and having leaders and their direct reports agree on shared responsibility is an optimum way. Once the goals are understood, it's critical the leader provides coaching to support and set up team members for success.
We have all encountered different leadership styles in our professional or personal journeys, and I was fortunate to have worked with multiple leaders in my 20 years in the hotel industry. Whatever strengths or weaknesses the leaders had, I must confess that I did learn something from all of them. One takeaway is that a leader needs to foster a culture of care by building trust, encouraging diverse viewpoints, and recognising excellent performance. I worked with two admirable leaders who made a visible and positive impact on an organisation's overall culture through their transformational leadership style. These two leaders were authentic, empathetic, and humble. They wanted everyone to succeed and accomplish the organisation's shared vision.
A great leader will understand the importance of building a strong team and be able to identify and develop talents for the future. They also understand that aiding a person's potential means providing direct feedback on work performance, ongoing coaching, customising development projects, and encouraging them to meet their career and organisation's goals.
When I was an Executive Trainer at Forbes Travel Guide, I spoke with many hotel executives about the importance of leadership development training. They all shared their one biggest concern – the increasing number of talent leaving the industry and the accompanying loss of professional knowledge and experience. Simply put, there is a challenge in risk-proofing the future and sustaining the bench strength of future leaders.
To add, it is equally crucial to train senior leaders to effectively coach and mentor the next generation, but there is a gap between knowing how to carry out a task and teaching how a task should be executed to a certain standard. Most senior leaders design leadership development plans that include coaching and mentoring, but when they are asked how it should be conducted, many still need the answer. In retrospect, senior leaders also need to strengthen their teaching skills.
Embrace The Unknown
From my experience, great leaders always look forward.
They embrace issues, lead confidently, and can comfortably adopt strategies and tactics to changes around guest needs, the environment, and financial and business situations. They also have a natural ability to inspire others, share learnings and provide opportunities for colleagues to develop their self-awareness and guide behavioural change.
Leaders can also find opportunities during challenging periods in a company. Their foresight to embrace the unknown and turn the situation into a clean slate to experiment and innovate new ideas and new possibilities is commendable. More importantly, I believe the leaders we admire can bring teams together and move in the same direction to get closer to their vision, all the while setting clear goals and accepting that success comes with failure.