Leadership is about doing 

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You, John C. Maxwell states, “True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that cannot be mandated. It must be earned. The only thing a title can buy is a little time—either to increase your level of influence with others or to undermine it.” 

Leadership does not rest on being given a title or holding a position. Leadership entails action that takes place within the context of a group of people. In business, it hinges on the ability of a leader to influence and guide members of a team, department or company in order to achieve set business goals. Through providing support, direction and motivation leadership in business involves motivating and helping people to become their best “professional” selves. In part, this is achieved by helping them to build their work-related technical and soft skills – and it often has the knock-on effect of helping them to achieve their personal goals along the way. Successful leadership involves a partnership between a leader and their followers in that it is the actions of both a leader and their team (along with the quality of their output) that will build a leader’s well-deserved reputation.  


Here are five positive actions a leader can take to build a thriving team and business: 

1. Maintain a steadfast focus on priorities 

To stay focused on reaching their goals, successful leaders delegate secondary tasks. This frees up their time so that they can concentrate on their top priorities; focusing on critical tasks that are linked to team and business success. This delegation empowers employees to take on and meet bigger responsibilities, which contributes to their professional development. Delegation also builds reciprocal trust. Leaders place their trust in their team members to complete tasks effectively, believing in their abilities, and employees trust in their leader to ensure the success of the team.  

2. Commit to consistent communication that reaches everyone 

Running a business requires facilitating a constant flow of information, downward, sideways and upward in an organisation. It is a leader’s responsibility to provide a clear and inspiring vision that gives meaning to the work the team does. Without regular, comprehensive communication, leaders run the risk of having serial, one-at-a-time employee interactions with elevated parties, while the bulk of the team never get to see the big picture, understand their role in the success of the company or feel a sense of belonging by being clued into what is happening behind the scenes. Practically speaking, communication is vital in expressing what leaders want to achieve, as well as conveying clear instructions as to what they need, and their motivation for making certain decisions. 

3. Concentrate on solutions 

Being an effective leader is not about creating a problem-free work environment. Rather, it is about how a leader chooses to approach and fix inevitable setbacks and complications. When a problem arises, solution-oriented leaders do not go on a witch hunt or wait passively for a solution to present itself. While solution-oriented leaders do not hesitate to take action, they also recognise when they are more likely to find the right solution by taking a step back, investigating the problem, taking advice from trusted associates, and only then choosing a course of action to resolve the issue.  

4. Create inspiration 

An ability to inspire others is one of the most important leadership skills. The best leaders inspire through being a role model; by setting exacting standards and demonstrating the behaviors and values they expect from their people. Inspirational leaders also connect with their employees on an emotional level. Beyond just telling employees what to do, inspirational leaders create a sense of shared purpose by appealing to their emotions and values, and creating a shared vision that helps employees feel connected to their work and supported to achieve goals. 

5. Build strong working relationships 

Leaders are not expected to be able to reach organisational goals on their own. They depend on strong, healthy working relationships at every level of a company, while bearing in mind that at work it is more important to be a respected leader (or boss) than it is to be a friend. This holds true in a leader being known to welcome hearing and implementing innovative ideas yet making it clear that the final decision lies with them. Building strong working relationships includes: 

  • treating people with respect, 
  • expressing appreciation, 
  • providing encouragement, 
  • backing your team and giving them the benefit of the doubt, 
  • listening deeply, 
  • owning your mistakes, 
  • genuinely caring about your people.  


Good leaders are always learning 

John F. Kennedy wisely said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  It is a mistake for leaders to believe they have nothing more to learn. The lack of a growth mindset can block opportunities for them and their teams to grow and develop new skills. It is essential to remain open to new possibilities. Embracing new ideas and ways to do things is important for innovation. It is only through continuous leadership development that leaders can ensure their skills remain relevant. Leaders who instill a learning culture within their companies and turn that learning into practical action will always have a competitive advantage.  


Over to you for sharing your comments and experiences.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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