What is leadership?  Can anyone be a leader?  Is leadership easy?  Why would I want to be a leader? 

Confused or frustrated about leadership?  You’re not the only one. 

Leadership is a very popular topic and with over 3 billion search results available on Google, we could be forgiven for being a bit confused.

So, let’s try and clear up that confusion!

The basic definition of leadership is the action of leading a group of people or an organisation.  This definition is still quite loose and doesn’t really give us the details, so here is my list of what I think it takes to be a leader.

Vision, Communication and Passion

Leaders have a vision and can clearly articulate this vision to others.  Communicate your passion/commitment and inspire your team by sharing what success will look like, how it will affect them and your clients/customers. 

Support, Motivation, Emotional Intelligence

Good leaders motivate teams and individuals.  They provide constructive feedback and coach people to excel, they recognise individual and team efforts and generally make people feel that their leader has their back.  By understanding differing points of view and how people are being impacted allows leaders to identify solutions and resolve concerns.

Integrity, Accountability

Teams quickly lose faith in leaders with a lack of integrity.  Many leaders can find themselves undermined or their focus diverted to retention issues rather than achieving business success. 

Great leaders are clear on accountability.  Consider Arnold H Glasow’s take on accountability – “A good leader takes little more than his/her share of the blame and little less than his/her share of the credit”.  Giving someone responsibility is only part of the success equation, consider giving them the accountability that goes with the task or job.

Confidence, Delegation, Empowerment

In my experience, this is about knowing who you are and being willing to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses.  Confidence levels change as we age.  I can honestly say that my confidence level is very different now compared to my early days of being a team leader. 

This personal growth gives us confidence to delegate activities.  Trying to do everything doesn’t allow you to focus on what is most important and what you are good at.  Delegation builds trust and confidence and experience in others.

Innovation, Creativity and Decision-Making

A leader doesn’t always need to have all the answers.  Cultivate these and other key skills and surround yourself with those that have these skills.  Go from good to great solutions by harnessing the skills and experiences of those around you.  Leaders identify key stakeholders and sounding boards whose opinions, they value.  Decisions impact others and it’s important to seek out opinions, thoughts and suggestions before they make the decision.   

Risk and Improvement

Great leaders know to weigh the risks and when to walk away.  They are also big enough to shift gears and have the courage to rectify something that is not working without placing blame.

Part of being a leader is inspiring and helping others to get to the next level.  Whether this is through personal or professional development, leaders encourage and commit to continuous improvement.

What they don’t tell you about being a leader?

Being a leader is not always an easy role as it’s not about being popular or having all the power, sometimes it’s about making hard and uncomfortable decisions.   Being part of a successful team and guiding people through challenging situations and seeing them thrive is just one of the many reasons why I enjoyed being a leader.

Have I missed any qualities of a great leader?  Have you been led by a great leader, if yes, what set them apart from others?  Perhaps you’ve encountered a bad leader, what impact did it have on you and what have you taken away from this experience?

I’d love to hear about your thoughts on leadership.  Send in your leadership questions and we’ll answer them in a future blog.

Kistin Gunnis
Business in Heels Global Operations Director



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