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What It Takes to be at the Top – Innovative Technology or Great Leadership?

Leadership is a great quality, awed by all, possessed by few, envied by many. This post is a result of several requests from my readers, an ode to Leadership, a tribute to great Leaders, my ideals being Alexander the Great, Steve Jobs and Dr. APJ.

What It Takes to be at the Top – Innovative Technology or Great Leadership?

What contributes to the rise of an enterprise to the Top? Is it great ideas, innovative technology, excellent product, and services or great leadership that steers it to the peak. A close study of the best practices of world’s top organizations, Walmart, Google, Salesforce, Berkshire Hathaway, Intuit, Apple, Amazon and a few other Fortune 500 companies point to the excellent leaders like Steve Jobs, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett under whose leadership companies witnessed exponential growth.

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. This is the power of leadership, and it was recognized by one of the greatest military leaders in history, Alexander the Great. Leadership has the power to turn an army of sheep into a force that could defeat an army of lions. Now I have come to believe this as a principle which is applicable not only to war, but also to sports, business, service, research, in fact to any field.

So what does it signify to be a Lion? It doesn’t mean running about screaming, real Lions don’t need to roar, they know that they are lions and so do others. Being a Lion is about being strong in a true sense, about not backing out, about having the courage and belief in yourself and your abilities, and then taking that and striving to create the courage and belief in your team, and in their abilities. When your team has courage and belief, they too become Lions, and then they are capable of doing so much more. This is why leadership is important, and as a leader, it’s your job to create a team of lions, you do this by creating belief and looking to get the best out of your people.

Remember, a Leader doesn’t need titles and designation to be attached, the one who is free of status symbols, and prepared for sacrifices, always ready for action. Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam rightly said, “Own your failures, bestow the successes upon your team”.

As you read through the top qualities or behavioral traits of a Great Leader, your mind will compel you to dissect your own reflection:

Brilliant Mentor

Great leaders are not simply great performers. They invest the time and energy to mentor others.

Great leaders share, train, implement and utilize best practices so that their teams can learn and grow, focusing on the purpose and not on the process per se.

Empowers Team and Refrains from Micromanagement

What are you doing to empower resources in your team and across the organization? It's all about empowerment. Leaders stay far from command and control impulse.

In fact, micromanagement is one of the biggest blunders of poor managers, would not say leaders. To be successful as a leader, you need to overcome your own shortcomings and insecurities, micromanagement being one of them. Give your team space. Be flexible. Sometimes, you just need to get out of their way.

Creates an inclusive Environment, Showing Concern for Success

Be inclusive. Embrace your team and make them part of the mission. Create an environment where anyone can ask a question, experiment and propose a new idea. Appreciate them, even on small achievements, every action counts and adds value.

You may not be correct always, give your resources the freedom to speak up without mind block. And if your mistake gets highlighted, take it in your stride, laugh out loud and take corrective action.

Sometimes the newest addition to your team, may give you the best surprise. All you need is a mindset to accept, acknowledge and give them ownership.

Productive and Results-Oriented

Results matter, but you need to create a culture in which everyone can thrive to produce the desired results.

Show your team how to produce the results that you want. Give them your time. Don't just set goals and then expect outcomes. If you have layers of leaders in your team, educate them to follow the same principles.

Good Communicator, Listens and Shares Information

Too many managers fail because they can't communicate. So you need to remind yourself, you are leading a team, not managing and lead by example.

Communication is not top-down or unidirectional. It's essential to be a good listener. Invest the time to get into the arena and listen to your team. If you have the habit to shut them off when they are trying to put across their points, you need to get rid of the bad habit. At times, you may miss catching the bigger point.

Supports Career Development and Discusses Performance

Don't focus on what your team can do for you. Focus on what you can do for them - and how you can work with them to advance the goals and mission of the organization.

Career development is necessary, give your team the tools they need to thrive.

Positive and Constructive Feedback at regular intervals is so important, make sure to get it right.

Clear Vision or Strategy

If you do not have a clear vision and strategy, how can your team thrive?

It starts with the leader to set the tone and lay the foundation. It has to be an iterative process with improvements and direction for the team on regular basis. It helps to keep your team focused to achieve the short-term goals and long-term vision.

Key Technical Skills

Substance matters. Leaders don't "check out" when they take over responsibility. Rather, they get in the weeds.

Not only can you help achieve better outcomes, but also you can gain credibility with your team when you demonstrate your technical expertise. Be involved and contribute.

Collaborates Across Organization

Do not stay isolated. Your team is not an island. You must collaborate across the organization. You have expertise that someone in another group can use. It will make your team take pride in their own work. Other groups too, have skills that can benefit you.

The more everyone shares, the more the organization rises. Collaboration leads to wonderful synergies.

Strong Decision Maker

Analysis helps, strategies give momentum, scenario testing provides focus. However, there is no replacement for being a strong decision maker.

You can spend unlimited time analyzing, strategizing and scenario-testing. But it's your action that matters the most.

So what score did you reward yourself? If you get an 8/10, you make a good leader. But you need a 10/10 if your aim is to be the Leader revered by the world and accepted by the universe.

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