“When you were made a leader you weren’t given a crown,” said Jack Welch, who raised General Electric’s value 4,000 percent during his tenure as Chief Executive from 1981 to 2001, “you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”
If, like Welch, you aspire to lead your company to great heights, you have to lead by example, be a role model, and be the kind of person everyone else wants to be like.
So whether you are working your way up a corporate ladder or running your own business, here are 10 skills you can cultivate to become an exemplary leader:
- Be Confident
When you walk and talk with confidence, you tacitly encourage people to do their best. When setbacks occur, you draw attention to the big picture and remain calm and poised. It’s almost impossible to inspire confidence in others when you don’t have it yourself.
Confidence is necessary to keep morale up when thing go wrong. High morale helps everyone to stay productive long enough to solve the problem. If you don’t set an example, if you panic, things will fall apart.
- Provide Inspiration
Inspiration allows you to forecast the best possible outcome. By pointing your team to focus on a future goal, you raise energy, pull up morale, and save the day.
What do the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, do to run one of the top companies in the world? They inspire their team to push innovation beyond the realm of what most people think is possible. The idea of a self-driving car, for example, is hard to imagine, but they are making it happen.
- Promote a Vision
One thing almost all great leaders have in common is that they are able to believe in the evidence of things not seen. They envision where they are going so well that others begin to see it, too.
Vision is what separates a leader from a manager. A manager organizes available resources to achieve a desired outcome. A visionary leader imagines exciting new possibilities.
- Cultivate a Positive Mental Attitude
It’s easy to notice what’s broken and what fails to work. It takes a unique mindset to see how things can be fixed and how to tweak things to start working well.
A positive attitude sets a positive tone in a company. It leads to the most conducive environment for employee happiness and productivity.
- Show Commitment
Commitment is much more than talking a good game. It’s about having the humility to work with others to get the work done.
When Sam Walton would show up in the truck driver’s breakroom with a box of donuts to find out about the logistics of delivering Walmart’s products, he displayed commitment to his vision.
- Tap into Creativity
There are times when you have to make a decision in the absence of the right information.
At times like this, you have to think outside the box. When Henry Ford faced overwhelming demand for his cars, he could have built more factories, but he needed a more immediate solution. He invented the assembly line to build cars faster. It reduced the time to build a car from more than 12 hours to only 2 hours and 30 minutes.
- Harness your Intuition
While there are similarities between creativity and intuition, they are not the same thing.
Douglas Dean, a researcher at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, found that 80 percent of chief executives who used intuition had doubled their company’s profits within a 5 year interval.
- Develop a Reputation for Honesty
In business, it’s tempting to cut corners, grease palms, and fudge contracts. Many businesses do, and the history of business is rife with scandals.
By raising the bar on values, it inspires worker loyalty, builds public confidence, and prevents a scandal that can quickly destroy a business that took a long time to build. It took many years to build Enron into the seventh biggest company in America but only a few months for it to collapse.
- Master the Art of Communication
Clear communication is an essential skill to persuade employees to buy into your vision, goals, and mission. It’s also the most powerful way to establish work expectations, train new employees, and offer constructive feedback.
- Trust and Delegate
If you insist on doing most of the work yourself to ensure the highest quality, you will never be able to scale up your business. Delegation involves training people to do what you do well and then trusting them to learn from their mistakes.
Leaders Are Made, Not Born
While some people may be more extroverted, astute, or adroit than others, these innate qualities rarely translate into leadership skills. If you aspire to be a leader, cultivate these ten skills to acquire the leadership skills you need to lead your team to success.