When playing chess, we must understand that the Queen is in fact, the most valuable player; it's not a matter of her power or status, instead it simply comes down to her capability.
If we were to compare a work space to that of a chessboard, then in order to understand the main difference between a manager and a leader; we need to identify the role they play in not only protecting the King, but getting their whole team across to the other side.
Here, we breakdown the 7 monumental qualities of a great leader.
1. Takes Full Accountability
While it's easy to play the blame game, this gets you (and everyone around you) nowhere. Instead, a true leader prides themselves on being held accountable throughout both the wins and losses.
"Accountability is the measure of a leader's height."
- Jeffrey Benjamin
When faced with a difficult situation, a leader looks to rectify the issue by taking a solution-driven approach rather than impairing the efforts of their peers; a leader takes true responsibility.
2. Gives Credit Where It's Due
From inspiring a culture of support, encouragement, and recognition, you instill the very confidence your staff need to thrive.
On the other hand, when you fail to commend their efforts and only point out their shortcomings, you don't encourage them to grow - you ingrain fear and in turn, keep them from unlocking their full potential.
After all, you've hired that person because you're sure of their potential. Now, it's time to simply trust and nurture their talent, at the same time as expressing your appreciation for their hard work and dedication; this is integral to ensuring your organization is in alignment with leadership best practices.
3. Inspires Innovation and Creativity
Sure, you've just hired incredibly talented individuals who hone their craft with a fine-tooth comb. So, why are you micromanaging them? In a must-read article by Entrepreneur, Heather R. Huhman reports, 'Micromanagement Is Murder: So Stop Killing Your Employees'.
"Invariably, micromanaging results in four problems: deceit, disloyalty, conflict, and communication problems."
- John Rosemond
Not only is micromanagement a roadblock to creativity, but it's also scientifically proven (Academy of Management Conference, 2015) to be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. If you would like to take your business to the ultimate next level, then you need to focus on innovation-led leadership above all.
4. Effectively Communicates
It should go without saying, but communication is, and will always be, the key to success. Whether you've read another best practices guide, or if you're hearing it here first, there's one thing we can all agree on...
...a leader doesn't merely expect you to understand what they "mean," they'll actually show you. An effective leader maintains clear and ongoing communication as to what you're doing well, how you could be doing better, and most importantly, demonstrates the drive to help you get there.
A true leader realizes that they too, are responsible for ensuring their team feels comfortable enough to come forth with queries at any time; a true hallmark of building truthful and loyal relationships with your people.
5. Maintains Discipline and Integrity
In order to 'lead' a team, you need to be able to first demonstrate you're someone worth following. Express your core values, openly engage your vision and in turn, transform the 'I' into 'we' at all times; whether your department is under-performing or over-achieving, a leader exhibits integrity and reiterates that it's a team effort (at all times).
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
- Peter Drucker
A fruitless manager will try to instate company policies, but will also be the first to break them (without fear of consequence). This bold absence of leadership creates instability and a lack of cohesion across the team, which is why it's imperative to ensure that when held accountable as a key decision-maker, that you make the right choices for the benefit of building, and consequently, boosting your team.
6. Expresses Genuine Empathy
We've all seen countless job ads that prioritise the importance of having a work-life balance yet time and time again, the reality proves otherwise. Without having a substantial balance, employees are far more likely to experience burnout and loss of productivity.
This also begs the question, why do so many people call in "sick" instead of asking for a mental health day when it's certainly needed? The answer is simple enough - they're not made to feel supported. One of the greatest qualities of a leader is their ability to empathize; to be able to show a genuine care for the wellbeing of their staff.
7. Efficiently Distributes Responsibilities
And finally, a leader knows how to also be an efficient distributor of key tasks and responsibilities. A leader won't assign a single person the workload of three people, nor will they mindlessly delegate tasks without first providing a clear brief.
“When you delegate work to a member of the team, your job is to clearly frame success and describe the objectives.”
- Steven Sinofsky
Passionate, dedicated, and hard-working employees won't see a job as a '9-5', they'll see it as a purpose - and that's where you lead.
We hope this article helps you to identify the hallmarks of true leadership, especially when recruiting for your next 'Manager'. In case you missed it, discover How to Embrace a Digital Transformation with our best practices' blog and position your business for greater success today.