When asked what leadership looks like most people will conjure up a similar mental image. Leadership looks confident, strong, decisive, intelligent and effortless, right? Maybe not. While confidence, strength, decisiveness, and intelligence are certainly important aspects of leadership it turns out they are far from the most important.
When it comes to leadership it appears that the five most important aspects of true, effective and successful leadership are the same five things no one ever tells you about leadership.
Unspoken Rule #1: There’s No Avoiding Conflict
There is a common misconception that conflict in the workplace leads to unhappiness and dissatisfaction in the workplace. In fact, the opposite is true. Conflict breeds happiness and contentment in the workplace, but there are limits.
Conflict is a natural result of different people working together in sometimes high pressure situations. We are human and our emotions, whether we want them to or not, will spill into the workplace. When conflict arises effective leadership sees this not as a detriment, but instead as an opportunity.
Unspoken Rule #2: Take the Time to Grow!
Opportunity for what you might be thinking? Well, an opportunity for growth of course. When conflict occurs in the workplace, or even in times without conflict, great leaders are looking for ways to encourage growth. This can be growth on a personal level with themselves, or with employees, or growth within the organization by recognizing where and how to best utilize new staff members.
Leadership is not a finish line and getting the promotion, position or business license is far from the end. Leaders must keep learning, keep growing and keep evolving to remain effective.
Unspoken Rule #3: Learn to Love the Feedback
One of the easiest ways to find opportunities for growth is to accept and cherish feedback. Feedback is worth its weight in gold, whether good or bad. Feedback allows you to peek into the heads of your customers, employees, investors and community and literally read their minds. This information can then be used to immediately improve, adjust or expand in a way that you will already know will be successful.
Great leaders encourage feedback from their employees, their customers and their colleagues and implement an environment where feedback is appreciated and welcomed.
Unspoken Rule #4: The Employee Should Be The Focus
A good leader knows the customer should be the focus of the business while a great leader understands the employees must be the focus on the business. When employees are cared for, invested in, respected and compensated fairly for their contributions to a company then those employees will then in turn respect, care for and invest in the customers.
By putting the customer above the employees, you are putting the cart before the horse in many ways because the people you count on to care for those customers are the employees and unhappy employees do not often make for happy customers.
Unspoken Rule #5: Leaders Should Always Act with Understanding & Vulnerability
The common trope of a leader being strong, stoic, cold and unapproachable is a poor guide for good leadership. One of things no one seems to talk about when it comes to leadership is that leadership must come from a place of understanding and vulnerability.
When leading, it is important to recognize while in a position of decision-making and executive power you are only as good as the sum of the parts beneath you. It is in your best interest for each and every one of those beneath you to excel beyond you. It is also in their best interest and the best interest of the company.
Approaching each employee and decision with understanding and also the vulnerability in knowing your success is entirely dependent on theirs will help to keep you on the right path regardless of your position or industry. Great leaders must remain open, honest, compassionate and most of all kind to their employees.