Whilst consulting with business leaders, I am often asked, “what does it mean to be a great leader and how can we define that”? This is a great question and one that’s important to answer as a team if you wish to have a shared definition and therefore, understanding of leadership within your business.
So, what would you say in response if a member of your team asked you that question?
There are thousands of definitions and frameworks for understanding leadership and what makes for a great leader, but my response to such questions tends to have me lean toward the model of family, with which most of us (for better or for worse) are familiar. In this “model” there are questions that can be really helpful in guiding the development of leadership within your business, such as;
- what makes a family work well?
- what can a parent do to support the smooth running of a family?
- how do other family members contribute their own unique character and skills to that family?
- in what way does the family recognise and celebrate its members and their unique contribution?
- What’s the most effective way for the family to raise and resolve conflicts?
- How does the family deal with external influences or disruptions?
- What are the common values and beliefs that bind the family and create belonging?
Whilst there are multiple answers to these questions and all of them have some validity, I am a firm believer that your answers to these questions can go a great deal of the way to giving you the insights you seek about leadership and its nature.
I firmly believe the human soul is wired to serve, so within my companies, and those with whom I consult, I am attentive to what I like to call the “daily practices”. It’s all those small things, consistently applied, that make for a great leader. Being truly present when people speak with you, asking about people’s wellbeing and genuinely being interested in their response, engaging people in the development of their own workflow knowing and speaking into the “listening” of people’s unique individual values, modelling the capacity to self-reflect and vulnerably share mistakes and learnings, making time to truly understand team members and what inspires them, creating a learning culture where calculated risk is encouraged and learning from mistakes is shared openly, ensuring a natural fit between each person’s personal drivers and values and the type of work they do within the business.
None of this is rocket science, but in our fast-paced world of more, more, more, it’s often the depth and quality of our personal relationships with people that gets ignored. Yet, the greatest forms of service we can offer through our business is to the very people who make up that business and are the foundation of our ability to serve our clients and customers.
In simple terms, the answer to what makes a great leader is someone who creates the sense of FAMILY within the people who make up the business.