Successful leadership skills begin with the ability to inspire, influence, and have the foresight to pivot if necessary. If a senior executive wants to create employee motivation, they first need to show integrity and lead by example.
Showing vision, positivity, and resilience can all contribute to how your team will respond. A boss who's willing to be held accountable and show empathy is more likely to have a motivated team. Steve Jobs once described leadership to a T, saying that “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” So how do you become a great leader, and which leadership style wins employee loyalty and productivity?
How to become a good leader
Successful leaders have the vision and the ability to make great ideas flourish. They lead by example and constantly inspire employees at all levels. To gain a deeper understanding of his operations, Grab Group CEO & Co-founder Anthony Tan’s rides out to experience front line duties with his fellow riders. Tan’s move not only increased team motivation and heightened morale, but he was also able to bring back lessons from his experience and reflect. Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading mobile technology company and is present in more than 500 cities and towns across 7 Southeast Asian countries.
Bosses orders and manages, but leaders empower, inspire, and work towards goals together with their team. More often than not, daring leaders takes the road less travelled, and this article aims to visualise this – here are the top 3 things visionary leaders are likely to do during their tenure:
Clear Communication – Great leaders open lines of dialogue and speak with compassion. Good communication reduces confusion and creates collaborative thinking and transparency. AirBnB Co-Founder and CEO Brian Chesky spoke with great sensitivity when he was forced to lay off staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. His open letter showed heart, reinforcing the company's caring brand values and inspiring employee loyalty, even winning empathic recognition from the masses.
Rising to the challenge – Pushing employees outside their comfort zone helps them to grow as a team and be resilient for the next challenge to come. Achievements are addictive! When the airlines industry was hampered by the pandemic, AirAsia’s Tony Fernandez was quick to diversify the airline business to keep employees on board. He donned a motorbike helmet and delivered food, pivoting from ‘wings to wheels’ last year with the launch of a delivery service. AirAsia also launched the Santan brand of restaurants with its key offerings being the dishes inspired by its in-flight meals. The manoeuvre was out of the box for its business and staff, but they soon acclimatised.
Recognising effort – A very common leadership faux pas is to measure failures over successes. A good leader would recognise the effort and empower their team to learn from the mistakes. Recognition is by far one of the best source for employee engagement, motivation and loyalty. Realising the power of recognition, the leadership behind popular beer manufacturer, Heineken, went as far as to rebrand their staff reward programme with awards that encourage values-led behaviour.
Bonus: Refresh corporate culture – Many traditional companies can find themselves in a stagnant condition, and a shakeup is necessary. Even when the numbers don’t show, a business might be slowly eroding. Take healthcare company Aetna for example. In this case study, the company was described to be slowly wearing away due to processes and operations that were still tied to its 150-year history. When John W. Rowe came to be the company’s CEO in 2000, he and the senior management engaged with employees of all levels to identify the company’s problem, and with their input, placed a plan for a corporate culture change into fruition.
Successful leadership styles
Successful leaders inspire and communicate their company's vision and mission. They can engage employees in a sense of purpose larger than profits alone. They have the foresight to recognise bright ideas and pivot during challenging times. Charismatic leaders know how to lead by example; they are extroverts in character and can easily inspire and enthuse. Some leaders prefer a more inclusive leadership style, referred to as "participative leadership”. These leaders tend to delegate easily, encouraging team participation in decision making. They are comfortable taking a back seat in team-building workshops and lead from behind. Transformational leaders, on the other hand, foster strong team bonds and encourage creativity. They stand front and centre with clear conviction. Whatever personal leadership style and vision they have for their company and employees, leading by example works. It’s a winning team formula!