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Mary Rose McLean on how to approach business leadership differently

Leaders can make or break an organisation. They influence every aspect of the business, and everything depends on their skills. Of course, the influence they have can be positive or negative.

Good leaders aren’t born that way. Instead, they are made through years of practice, experience, thinking outside the box and innovating. The foundation of an objectively successful, positively influential and respected business leader lies in their approach to their employees. By taking on responsibility for the welfare, satisfaction and career progress of your employees, you can become a great leader.

Let’s approach business leadership differently

Take a look at these five key areas of great leadership. These are not the usual leadership tips and tricks, rather they are taking you off the beaten track. Yes, there are core skills to have as a leader, and you’ve probably seen these covered in many blogs, stories, seminars and courses but the following approach it from different angles.

  1. Have you fully embraced the leadership challenge?

Great leadership begins with acceptance. Understanding the make-up of a leader who inspires people, engenders trust and positively affects the bottom line is key to success.

Many are in a rush to tick the boxes needed to get to the top of the corporate ladder. They don’t accept the challenge internally, rather they skate the surface of traits that make great leaders. If you want to be the kind of leader that truly makes a difference, your role is to support and motivate employees.

Further, it’s to remove any obstacles between them and their ability to do their role well. It’s to always put into real-life practice the interpersonal skills you need. And it’s not possible to do this without first accepting the challenge ahead.

  1. Quick fixes are not your friend

Effective leaders never resort to quick fixes or showy gimmicks to sort out problems. Instead they understand that always need to learn new ways to overcome challenges. You should look for ways to facilitate higher productivity to get results. And rather than searching for a shortcut, that there isn’t one. As leader, you are learning every day of your career. This is what helps you evolve and change. Apply yourself to new ideas from as many sources as you can and you will discover what works for you.

  1. Work with your employees

Your employees don’t work for you, they work with you. Great leaders understand this and always work to cultivate workable partnerships with employees. Working with people means a higher possibility of meeting your strategic goals, retaining staff and boosting productivity.

Two-way, open communication is the key to building this relationship with your employees. Take the time to ask questions and listen to their answers. Allow your employees to question you as leader. If possible, designate more responsibility to employees and ensure they are supported in their roles.

  1. Open your mind

You’ll know a poor leader when you see one. They never listen to other people and refuse to learn from any external intelligence. Great leaders open their ears and minds to their employees, peers, superiors, customers and clients.

This not only furnishes you with far more information than you could ever hold alone, but also helps people feel valued. It’s feasible that someone outside of your immediate circle will come up with a solution to a long-standing problem. And while you can use technology and all kinds of tools to streamline and improve your business, your greatest asset will always be your employees.

  1. Trust is a two-way street

Building and maintaining open and honest trust levels with employees is something that great leaders never stop doing. It’s a career-long undertaking and should be at the forefront of everything you do as a business leader. Encourage your employees to communicate with you, with each other, with clients, customers and suppliers.

Two-way trust and an environment in which everyone feels genuinely safe and empowered to contribute, are the building blocks of success. This includes when employees feel frustrated, overtaxed or otherwise unhappy, and not just for the easy stuff. Employees should be able to speak up without being reprimanded, so that you can work with them to find solutions.

A successful organisation is a well-oiled machine and as leader, you’re tasked with keeping it running smoothly. Never stop learning how to do this more effectively.