A dozen names exist for people who lead others: manager, coach, boss, supervisor, head honcho…the list goes on and on. We often mindlessly choose one word over the other, but when we stop and think about it, a chasm of meaning separates them all. The terms “boss” or “supervisor” are slowly being replaced with “leader” or “mentor”, and this is no accident.
Our favorite April articles explore the common ingredients that make a great leader or coach. Rather than cracking a whip, the predominant behavior involves listening to employees and providing support. We see a shift and are excited to straddle a new paradigm of leadership in business today — one where companies reach their highest potential by supporting their people, and individual employees are engaged and fulfilled in their work.
By Jeff Haden
You can quickly assess someone’s leadership skills and experience by skimming their LinkedIn profile, but the marks of true leadership lie beneath the surface. Haden highlights a leader’s ability to consider employees as fallible people, not just flying off the handle when mistakes are made. The exceptional ones seek the underlying issues behind an employee’s challenges and offer them support. They connect company growth to employee’s personal goals. And even after the most productive and triumphant day, they always go home wondering what they could have done better.
By Will Yakowicz
Many factors go into maintaining positive morale, but none more potent than a leader’s presence. A study conducted by professors at the Wharton School and George Mason University, found that “compassion can increase employee morale and a sense of teamwork, and even trickles down to boost customer satisfaction”. Managers surveyed in the study did not snuggle with employees (they didn’t report that anyway), they performed simple acts of kindness like asking how an employee’s family was doing or getting them a cup of coffee. Compassion in the workplace is now scientifically proven to reduce sick days, increase engagement, and even improves the personal lives of employees.
By Ekaterina Walter
What distinguishes an average leader from one who is self-aware? Great leaders have character, they know their own strengths and shortcomings and also strive to understand their teams. Self-aware leaders know that they can’t go it alone. They motivate others and form strong relationships with teams, colleagues, and others outside their organization. Revolutionizing industries and establishing the new norm takes courage, and true leaders stay committed to their vision in the face of adversity.
By Bill Murphy Jr.
A critical aspect of leadership is aligning employees around company goals by providing a breakdown of past performance and future plans. Leaders inform others on challenges and opportunities and provide benchmarks to assess productivity. For great leaders, this is not just a one way conversation. Ask your team questions, give people an opportunity to share triumphs, and create a culture of gratitude around the efforts of others.
By Elle Luna
Leadership is not just about listening to others, leaders must also listen to the desires deep within themselves. Luna outlines the fears that keep us from giving our greatest gifts to the world; perceived lack of money and time, and the fear of abandonment by those who tell us what we should be doing with our lives. In lieu of what we ‘should’ do, she has discovered the exquisite experience of what we ‘must’ do: “when who we are and what we do are one and the same.” Read her piece and you might just discover the courage to choose it for yourself.
The makings of an extraordinary leader can be as practical as listening closely to employees’ suggestions, observations and desires, and offering support when needed. Others take the time to get to know themselves, have the courage to follow their passions, and enroll others in the fulfillment of their grand vision.
David Mizne, Content Manager at 15Five interviews some of the most brilliant minds in business and reports on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to employee engagement. 15Five creates an internal communication process that allows the most important information to flow seamlessly throughout an organization, to surface issues before they become problems, to celebrate wins, discover great ideas and stay tuned in to the morale of the team.
What are your defining characteristics of great leadership? Leave us a comment below.