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Leader Qualities

Did you know that no matter the job description, everyone is a leader and is hired to lead? But there’s leading – and then there’s really leading. Go Hustle speaks to Kerry Morris, CEO of recruitment and labour services agency, Tower Group, about the qualities that don’t actually make you a good leader. 

You don’t need a title to be a leader 

The truth is, as a career-hungry society, we’re too stuck on titles. The employee is led to believe their title defines the expectations. The lower the pay grade or the title, the lower the expectations, the easier it becomes not to lead. “Many first-time job seekers resist the urge to climb in order to avoid the expectations of leadership. In my books, this slow-to-grow attitude is a result of fear of leadership. This kind of fear drives complacency and complacency is dangerous in any business. Make leadership a culture, not a title. No fancy title required,” says Kerry.  

READ MORE: “Resonant Leadership”: How To Guide Your Team With Emotional Intelligence

You don’t need to burn out to be ordained a leader 

Since when was it ever a prerequisite to have “Burnout Experience” on your CV? Never. Many managers, CEOs, FDs and MDs have adopted the burn-and-break method of leadership as a means to prove themselves worthy of their “title”. Bad idea. “To lead, and lead authentically, requires flames of energy and enthusiasm. No flame, no game – and ultimately no aspiring followers in your footsteps,” says Kerry.

Recognise “Burnout Intelligence” as a key performance indicator. Teach your teams about burnout – become vocal about balance and wellness. Adopt a method of rest and recovery among your leaders and the idea that a healthy life develops a healthy leader. 

You don’t need to be ruthless to be a leader 

“Teach your team that leadership doesn’t look like The Devil Wears Prada. It doesn’t have to be ugly and terrifying – where your staff are shaking in their boots just to breathe,” she says. Leadership is not leadership if it’s shrouded in power play. Obliterate the stigma of the “A-hole leader archetype” – who shoots from the hip and only pushes the bottom line. Leadership is leadership when it listens and cares; when it’s wrapped in integrity and authenticity. Leadership is empathy, compassion and the little things – like fixing a warm cup of coffee when your customer arrives at your reception.  

READ MORE: “The One Piece Of Advice I’d Give My Younger Self” – Girl Bosses Dish Life And Leadership Lessons

You don’t need to become a monk, and say you were once a leader  

Hands up if you’ve heard a story this week of someone who left “corporate” to move to the countryside and start a chocolate fondant shop. It happens. Sadly, corporate environments have earned a bad rep for chasing people to… well… the Karoo. “Life changes do not have to be this dramatic – and we’re to blame. Our dramatic portrayal of leadership has a lot to do with these irrational career jumps by our colleagues, and even our superiors,” says Kerry.

What if we developed our leaders to lead by example, and not by drama. What if we wrote books about line managers who had happy families and spent quality time with their children while still being able to get their work done, on time, and with excellence?

Develop your leaders to tell better stories about their leadership, to show a better way of being; to reveal that leadership doesn’t have to cost you. It’s meant to lift you, inspire you – so you can inspire others. Do this, and your employees will feel safer showing up, and more satisfied climbing the ladder than jumping off it.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

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