Knowing that you’re responsible for the livelihood of employees and living up to your stakeholders’ expectations is a daunting task, even for the most seasoned business leader. How can one person single-handedly lead a company and bear the brunt of the associated pressures, all while managing their own affairs?
For many, the hardest thing about being a leader is the misconception that you alone must always have the right answer.
It is often perceived that a leader should have all the solutions and must take full responsibility, all of the time. Unfortunately these aren’t realistic expectations, particularly for bigger and more complex businesses.
Apart from the obvious pressures that come with absolute responsibility, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini’s famed “one leader, one voice” approach, when deployed in business or politics, prohibits considered judgement, and ultimately fails. It leads to tunnel vision and stymies the progressive and layered thinking required to drive businesses in today’s globalised and ultra-competitive marketplace.
Collaborative thinking, spearheaded by an inspiring leader, is the antithesis of the “one leader, one voice” approach. A collaborative approach can be the most powerful method for guiding a business and delivering on its strategic objectives. Some of today’s greatest business leaders describe themselves as Chief Evangelists and as ambassadors for their businesses. These modern leaders often uphold this set of guiding principles for achieving collaborative success:
- Understanding their key stakeholders – A business’ environment is made up of various stakeholder groups, and one of the strongest tools a leader can equip themselves with is insights around how they are perceived by their key stakeholders, and what each of their individual priorities are.
- Establishing a set of corporate values – Every action you take reflects who you are as a leader, and every guiding value demonstrates your beliefs. Being able to clearly articulate what you and your company stand for will help give strategic direction to your business and your leadership ambitions.
- Building exceptional teams - Creating a strong employer brand will help to attract the best and brightest people for your organisation. Leaders must invest in their people as a key asset to ensure they can confidently and capably work together for the betterment of the company.
- Challenging the status quo – Admired leaders face challenges head-on and find ways to help their teams make significant impacts. Collective, multidisciplinary strategising with a diverse team is a great way to generate new ideas and develop action points to underpin pillars of a new business strategy.
- Embedding shared accountability – Promoting accountability by defining roles and delegating responsibilities is a simple and effective way to ensure goals are achieved. Accessibility and two-way communication is key to ensuring that no team members are isolated in their roles, thus helping to create a culture of shared accountability.
- Motivating their colleagues – People need inspiration in working towards a common goal. Great leaders understand the power of connecting with people to give them the added emotional inspiration required to deliver on their goals.
Someone once said that ‘leadership is the other side of the coin of loneliness, and he who is a leader must always act alone.’ Not true. An open and more collaborative approach to leadership not only delivers superior results but it makes being a leader much more enjoyable.