Over the years, I have helped to grow several businesses from startups, to established soloprenuers, to coporations. I have held the positions of corporate sales trainer, corporate head hunter, CEO, DOO, COO, sales manager, marketing director, and I'm sure I left a couple out. Each one of these positions were positions of leadership. There is a huge difference between the title of leader, and actually being a leader. Leadership is a fragile thing. If one of the six traits I'm going to tell you about in this article goes south, it is very conceivable that everything could fall apart, leaving you and your entire organization at risk.
Leadership traits are developed skills which enable you to move a team in the collective direction of success. Great leaders are most concerned with the success of others, and the ability to help them grow. Understanding how to get there can be a daunting task, but once you understand, you can become unstoppable.
I have put together the six traits I have perceived to be held by all great leaders. This list of personal and professional qualities do not come easy. The point of this article is to give you knowledge without the hardship it takes to learn it on your own. I have failed. Time and time again, in one way or another, I have fallen squarely on my face in the process of learning what I am about to share with you.
There are six qualities that must be posessed in order to reach the pinnacle of leadership, and scale a business or organization to a higher level.
1. The ability to accept authority.
First, and this isn't as easy as it seems, you must be willing to accept the fact that everything rides on you. It is solely your responsibility to make decisions and hand out directives. There is no one else to blame when things don't go as planned, so you must be willing to lay down the law, and cut anyone down who stands in the way of your directives. This is hard, but it comes with the territory.
NOTE: A great deal of trouble can be avoided by learning to hire people that you need, not hiring just because you need people.
2. Ability to relate
Quite the opposite of trait one, you must learn to empathize with your team. When you take a genuine interest in your team as individuals, you make it easier for them to trust you. When they trust you, they will follow you even when they don't understand why. This will save a ton of time explaining the ins and outs of every decision you make. In other words, you won't constantly be "selling" your team on doing what you ask. Further, if you take the time to get to know your people individually, learning their strengths and weaknesses, you won't find yourself setting them up to fail. Instead, you'll have the knowledge to put each piece of your plan into the right hands, creating success for not only your team, but for yourself as well.
3. Ability to produce
Building trust is one thing, keeping it is another. Now that you've gained their trust, you must make it a point, often, to prove that you can produce. This doesn't mean that you need to know the tech as well as the IT guy, what it means is that you can produce, that you are leading from the front, and that they can count on you for your share of the work. Nobody wants to work for the guy or girl who sits back and bosses everyone around, or even worse, who has a big enough ego to be on the golf course at noon on a Monday! If you are about your production, your people will be as well.
4. Ability to train producers
This is something you must do. Not everybody is going to stay forever, so you have to have the ability to show a new hire how you do it. Regardless of previous experience, your culture will have nuances that they are not a custom to. In a startup, you are actually doing this much by trial and error. The original members of your organization are developing this system. During this development, it is imperative to document everything. Then, when you get the bugs worked out (it will never be perfect), you can use that documentation to create a training manual and system. However you do it, do not wait until you hire someone to begin thinking about how you will train them. If you do, it may take several failed hires to find the right person for the job, which as you know, can be very costly.
5. Ability to create producers who can train other producers.
Now we make the turn from maintaining a business to scaling it. If you are content to maintain your level of organizational production, training everyone yourself may be an option. However, you can't be everywhere at once. If you wish to scale your business to the next level, you've got to learn how to train people to train your system to others. This can be done in the same way it was done when you learned to train. Document everything as you go through the mess of training people yourself, so you can create an actionable program for those you hope to promote into trainers in the future.
6. Ability to replicate yourself. To create a person who can replace and even surpass you.
Number six is the end all be all of leadership. Once you've learned to replicate yourself in others, you can take your business anywhere you want it to go. After all, you did it, now if someone else is a good, or hopefully even better than you, you can scale at a phenomenal pace. The only way to do this is to find a person you know is capable, and invest time, money, and energy that you may not even have into their development. This is where your corporate structure begins to take shape. You are now creating an inner circle within your business, and building a level of trust that becomes a level of faith in each other. It is important to note that the sooner you can begin this process, the faster your business will grow!
These are traits, not a step by step process. That is to say that they may be developed one at a time, and often are developed in the order I have given them to you, but they must all be learned and used together. If one of these traits is lost or weakened, it will have an effect on your business almost immediately. That means, along with learning these traits, you must develop a keen sense of self-awareness, knowing where you stand with each at all times. Non of this is easy, but if you can learn and maintain these six leadership traits, your business will grow.
Thanks for reading,