Article written by Guest Blogger Rachel Jepson, Exclusively for InPursuit
Many business leaders have steered their companies toward greatness and have surmounted great challenges, thanks to their set of leadership skills. Tim Cook of Apple is probably one of the most famous leaders who delivered despite the odds stacked against him. After taking over the company in 2011 after former CEO Steve Jobs succumbed to cancer, which many took to be a sure sign of Apple’s decline, Cook took the lead and enjoined his employees to work together. He managed to keep the company profitable while maintaining Jobs’ vision (more on that later).
It is still a long debate whether leaders are born or made, but some traits undoubtedly make up a good leader. Here are the top traits of great leadership and examples of how they helped a company grow.
Keeping up morale and motivation
A leader must maintain a positive attitude and strong working relationships within and outside the company. A leader inspires and motivates. They do not diminish or intimidate. Great leaders take good care of their employees and one way they motivate their staff is through proper compensation.
Tech giants Apple, Microsoft and Google all have raised salaries this year with their visionary leaders aiming to retain employees and maintain competitiveness. Microsoft also boosted the amount of stock compensation it gave to some workers by at least 25%. Aside from monetary benefits, they have offered flexible work setups and comfortable offices, and promoted a strong work-life balance. It doesn’t matter the size of the company, as long as employees feel valued by the leadership they will be motivated to help the company grow.
The ability to make hard decisions.
Having a solid business plan is vital, but not everything goes as expected. When these dilemmas present themselves, a leader needs to be strong and agile enough to make big decisions. These are hard decisions that need to be made to ensure the future and the direction of a business enterprise, and this exposes how leadership is very different from popularity. Good leaders must strike a balance between making strategic decisions that may seem unpopular at first, especially if a major change is needed for the company’s growth, while also ensuring that their staff don’t feel out of the loop and demotivated.
A great example of this type of leader is Anne Mulcahy who saved Xerox from bankruptcy. She did this by prioritising cost cutting, putting an increased stress on productivity increases every year, swiftly settling the company’s SEC litigation, and emphasizing heavy R&D funding. She also managed to create a strong company culture by making herself accountable saying “I am the culture. If I can’t figure out how to bring the culture with me, I’m the wrong person for the job.” This change in direction, however, came with tough decisions including the letting go of 22,000 employees. Yet it was those hard decisions that allowed the company to grow.
Nurturing future leaders
Many companies outlast their leaders. While we cannot be with the company, our leadership principles and achievements should not stop by the time we leave. A new breed of leaders must be in training at all times.
A good example of this would be how Steve Jobs developed leaders who are ready to take on his work. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he carried on with a mantra of prioritizing people, and putting products and profits, albeit also important, on the back seat. Through this, he has inspired many succeeding leaders and employees to continue his legacy and take the company to greater heights after his passing.
Mastering the grand art of inspiring action through great leadership takes time. It takes hard work, commitment, and humility to be able to effectively and successfully lead a huge number of people towards a common goal of success. If you are in such a position we hope the above tips and examples prove useful.