John Bernatovicz

Leadership: It’s Not All Charm

Leadership. It’s a quality that will take you far in the business world. But what makes a good leader? Charisma? Strength? Manipulation and/or control?

No. The key to being an effective leader is flexibility, allowing you to bend and not break under pressure. Flexibility lets you adapt to any situation presented to you—and bring you and your team through the challenge…But what makes a flexible leader? We believe there are six key qualities: Global Perspective, Forward Looking, Relationship Building, High Integrity, Collaboration, and Open-Mindedness.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Leaders with a worldly perspective embrace diversity. They respect and make an effort to learn about other cultures. They work across cultures and bring a diverse team together.

Don’t be afraid if you have to start small with this one. It’s hard to expand globally in one day. Just make sure you’re constantly working to have a more global perspective instead of solely focusing on your geographic location.

FORWARD LOOKING
A leader who is forward looking prepares for the future, looks for trends and studies them, using the knowledge to help prepare themselves and their teammates. No one knows the future, but the prepared see a variety of possibilities and prepare for them

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
A good leader builds relationships with a variety of people through effective communication. They can articulate their idea or problem to their team or an individual and delegate a task or solve it together. They make sure the other party understands what’s needed to make sure goals are met.

To accomplish any of these tasks, you need to first know your own strengths and weaknesses. Ask colleagues for feedback, and take criticism gracefully. Don’t forget to see how you can help others—all relationships are a two-way street. Above all, always say thank you. Gratitude is always appreciated.

HIGH INTEGRITY
This one is simple. Tell the truth, and follow up with your commitments. A lie creates more trouble than it’s worth. Also, if you schedule a meeting for 11:45 on Thursday morning, you’d better show up on time and prepared.
Have a simple moral code, write it down and follow it.  Treat everyone with respect. Leaders earn respect by showing their employees respect.

COLLABORATION
Be a team player. Accept other people’s opinions and use them. Make projects truly group oriented. If you can’t get everyone in a room together, use Skype or conference calls to get everyone contributing. CC people on emails. Share documents on a cloud network so they can be edited simultaneously (Google Docs allow this feature—and it’s free). Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Mutual respect and effective communication will get the most efficient solution out of the group.

When forming teams, try to get people who already know each other together. This tactic speeds up the awkward initiation process, and the team can get right to collaborating. Display a community culture. Everyone is part of a team. If you can, have someone be a collaboration coordinator—someone who assists in team building exercises and can act as a third party to help foster communication and collaboration across the board.

OPEN-MINDED
Simply put, be open to other people’s opinions. Try to have the most informed viewpoint possible. Read articles and journals that have an opposing position to your own. Respect other people’s ideas and suggestions. Be critical, not only of evidence that goes against your opinion, but the evidence that supports it. It’s okay to change your position, if you can back it up—it’s a sign of open-mindedness and adaptability.

People tend to be more open-minded when making a pro/con list, so try some of those. Or take a viewpoint you support, and come up with three arguments against it. For example, think of three good reasons to hire a staffing company like Willory. Then think of three reasons why you wouldn’t hire one. Looking objectively at the situation, with an open mind, will allow you to make the best decision for you and your company.

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