By Suzanne Ogle
There are hundreds of articles written daily on traits of fantastic leaders and toxic leaders; hundreds of buzzwords abound in the media on these topics. Of course, there is also the age-old debate of whether great leaders are born or made. When it boils down to being a leader that people want to stick with and not leave, that leader has to create a compelling vision of where they are going and taking their team and communicate it in the same compelling manner. The leader needs to exhibit alignment between this vision and their values, cultivate a culture of trust and know who they are leading. Finally, this leader needs to know the people they want to follow them.
Traits that are required to create and communicate this type of vision requires leaders to focus on what is important to their company, their values and their team. The vision has to align with the company’s mission, the leaders values and what matters to their team. A leader has to be crystal clear on depicting this vision and communicating it in several ways to land with all members of the team. There must be a laser-like focus on where they are going and how it achieves success – for the company, the leader and their team. The leader has to ensure this vision has marked progress points, a beginning and an end, and can be understood by the many. A leader demonstrates their competence by aligning the vision with the mission of the company. They continually build their credibility across the organization by knowing where they are going is directly related to where the company needs to go to be successful.
The alignment of the vision to the leaders values it critical to fostering trust, authenticity and loyalty. People do not follow someone they do not trust. Trust is built when a leader demonstrates, actually lives their values visibly in their everyday interactions. A leader must be intentional in their actions and interactions with people. The focus needed for the vision requires attentiveness so that its alignment with the leader’s values is observable. How a leader handles themselves when the pressure is on requires thoughtful, deliberate action and response. A measured approach that is consistent and trust-worthy will make great strides in cultivating the culture of trust in which employees desire to belong.
Finally, we all want to be seen and understood. In order for a leader to create trust with their team, they must know their team. Creating an amazing vision is empty air if it does not matter to the people that are working to make the vision a reality. A leader must take the time to get to know their team, their desires, goals, objectives, and dreams in order to compel them to stay and work hard together for this shared vision. Demonstrating compassion builds on a leader’s credibility and enables the leader to hold team members accountable. Most teams want enough structure to know what to do and know when they are off-course. A leader that knows their team has the capacity to keep people on track in a motivating manner; one that takes into account how joining the leader’s mission to achieve this vision also makes a difference to that team member.
Leaders can cultivate skills and learn traits to make them more equipped to communicate and articulate a great vision. One can practice communicating in a compelling manner and improve their delivery. Great leaders may not be born great, it takes being intentional, attentive to others and having the confidence to be authentic. Regardless, great leaders have to work hard and know how to be successful themselves, they must live their values – everyday, and they have to truly care about their team; then they can cultivate a place where people desire to work to fulfill the vision cast.