Leadership is something that has the power to change destinies. A great leader can change the fortune of a company, country or mankind.
A great CEO can change the fortunes of a company. Look at Steve Jobs, he co-founded Apple and then was fired by the very company he co-founded. Due to challenging times Apple had to bring him back, and he went on to create a huge fortune and changed the way we use smartphones.
A great President or Prime Minister can bring a country out of poverty into prosperity. A great leader can ensure victory on all fronts.
Look at Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minster of Singapore.
Singapore was a very poor country, when he took over. There was a lack of public sanitation, very high unemployment and high crime. With his leadership he transformed Singapore into a thriving and developed economy and changed the fortunes of the people there.
All great leaders have certain qualities that need to be admired and emulated. Here, I share the 10 most powerful leadership qualities to be successful at anything.
1. Ability To Inspire
The greatest leaders known to mankind have the ability to inspire people to follow their goal and mission. Great leaders, don’t need to order people to do things – people desperately want to make their vision a reality.
They have the power to inspire people. They do this with their words, body language, confidence, charisma and understanding of human psychology. They are masters of sales and persuasion. (Discover How To Sell Like A Master)
If you are an entrepreneur, CEO, Managing Director, Sales Head or even the President of a country, you need to be able to inspire your people to achieve goals and targets laid down by you.
They should be made to take control and have a burning desire to attain it. Ask yourself, how well are you inspire your people to discover their own greatness and potential?
Great leaders need to be master listeners. Till you don’t listen, you can’t understand what is happening.
You need to listen to what your people are saying, as well as not saying. You need to be able to read their body language and understand their psychology.
Look at companies like Nokia, Blackberry and Kodak – at a given time, they were all leaders in their domains and fields. But suddenly, they stopped listening and were overtaken by others.
It doesn’t matter where you are today, if you stop listening, you will stagnate and stop growing.
3. Welcome Change
I regularly am invited to speak on change management and how to handle change. I don’t believe anyone should manage change, instead, change should be welcomed. It should not only be welcomed, as a leader you need to become a catalyst for change.
If you don’t welcome and constantly change, somebody else will. And then you have to catch up with that somebody else.
Look at the leadership in companies like Google and Amazon. They keep coming up with new technologies and launch new products and services that challenge their existing products.
So for example, Amazon used to sell only books in the beginning. Later on, they launched e-books and Kindle (their e-book reader). They used to sell movies and music, later on they launched Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Prime Music. They created new products to compete with their existing products.
It is better to create new products and services to compete with your existing products, rather than let somebody else do it.
As a leader you need to keep inspiring your people to welcome change. To think of solutions and services which will become revolutionary.
Anyone who isn’t willing to change their ideas and ways, will be stuck in the past. After all the only thing constant is change.
4. Be Bold
Many times, things are going to get tough. You as a leader will be required to have nerves of steel and make bold decisions. You will need to be bold and chart the way ahead as everyone is looking up to you for direction and guidance.
So if you are facing a challenging time, you will have to be bold and fire people who aren’t performing. Because if you don’t fire them, not only will you lose valuable resources, you will also infect the morale of people who are performing. (Read my piece on the importance of firing people to have happiness at work!)
Make sure whatever goal you set for yourself and your team, is bold and big. If it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable and challenged, it isn’t good enough.
5. Don’t Expect To Be Loved By Everyone
There used to be a show called, Everybody Loves Raymond, I used to love the show – but Raymond was in no way a great leader. He was stuck between his mother and wife and mostly tried to get out of sticky situations with lame excuses. A lovable person, but not a great leader.
Leaders, make tough decisions every day. When you make tough decisions, certain people are bound to be unhappy. Imagine, you start firing, people who are not performing, are they going to be happy? Of course not. But in the long term, the company and others in it will benefit.
Imagine you as a parent, stop your children from watching too much TV or spending a lot of time on the internet – will they be happy? Probably not in the short term, but in the long term they will get the benefits. They will now instead play sports or read books – both which will sharpen they body and mind.
Great leaders do what is good – not what gets them liked.
Great leaders have massive self-belief and confidence in themselves and their ability to lead and succeed. So Warren Buffett, even when he was a very small boy, told everyone – “I always knew I was going to be rich.”
In history, leaders like Alexander The Great, believed they are Divine and had massive faith and self-belief.
Self-belief and confidence are contagious. Once your people sense your confidence, they too will be infected with it and shall behave in a similar manner.
I remember, once a relatively small Real Estate Developer with around USD 100 Million (Rs. 700 crores) in annual turnover approached me to consult and train his sales force.
One of the key areas, they were losing out to competitors was that the leadership didn’t have self-belief. When the sales force spoke to customers, deep down on a psychological level, they didn’t feel justified they deserved the price they were asking.
We were able to change this within a period of 6 months with intensive training, psychological strategies and of course firing a few people not willing to change and getting new people on board from A list competitors who were giving incredible results.
7. Accept Mistakes (But Make Sure You Can Afford To Make Them)
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t be afraid if your team make mistakes. Just make sure the mistakes they make, are affordable in nature. So if you run a hospital and have hired doctors, you need to be very careful and strict in ensuring no mistakes are made as it is a question of lives.
It’s the same if you are running an airline; your pilots, engineers and planes – safety should be given utmost importance. Mistakes here are unaffordable.
But in other areas mistakes can be made and should be encouraged, as a part of research and development. Trials and errors, lead to experimentation and eventually give results.
So you can try testing out new products, some of them might work, some won’t. That’s perfectly fine.
You could try out new forms of advertising and marketing. Make sure your people are not afraid to commit mistakes, just encourage them not to make the same mistake over and over again.
8. Give Responsibility To People
A great leader, trusts people.
As a leader you need to be able to give responsibly to people and encourage them to deliver results. You need to learn and master the art of delegation and stop micro-managing everything. Any organization or person who has grown and scaled up, has done so because of using the power of teams and people.
For example, when most people look at The Happionaire™ Way or Yogesh Chabria, they see only a part of it. But it would not be possible without all the teams and people who work to spread our message with expertise in different areas.
I like giving people responsibilities with complete faith in them after analyzing their potential.
There is a saying in Persian, which says “A tree that bears fruits, always bends.”
The greatest leaders in the world know the power of humility. Be humble, and you will see magic happening around you. You will be able to connect with people better, listen better and learn more.
Look at people like Mahatma Gandhi, they were great leaders, and yet so humble and grounded. Humility is also great for health and personal wellbeing.
I love speaking and learning from everyone I meet. Once when I was 16, I was traveling by auto, I started speaking to the driver. He shared, how in addition to driving the auto, he had taken a loan from the bank and invested in two apartments on the outskirts of the city. He had given these on rent and the rent was able to pay off the monthly installments to the bank.
He said, that in around 10 years, the rent from the apartments would pay for the loan. After that, he would become the owner and the asset would continue working for him. So even if he stopped driving the auto, he would have money coming in. And of course, the apartments would appreciate too as they were close to Mumbai and the population was growing.
This was much more valuable than all the economic lessons I had in college and school, as it showed me the importance of having rent yield assets.
Let’s be humble and learn from everyone.
The greatest leaders have empathy. They have the ability to enter the mind, body and soul of the other person and become that person.
Can you do that?
Can you become your employee or customer or supplier? If you master that ability, you will know what drives the person. What motivates them, what scares them and what gets them to do what they do.
Once you are able to understand that, you can make decisions in a wiser manner. Leaders who have empathy have massive power – because they have uncovered one of the major secrets to success and long term impact.
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Winston Churchill – all understood this and knew what drove and inspired their people. They were able to connect with their people on a deeper level and bring change that has become historical.
This is how they were able to leave behind a legacy.
P.S.: I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at IIT-Bombay, where I’ll be speaking on Succeed The Happionaire Way at Techfest 2018 – 16th December 2018 – 4 pm.
The other speakers are going to be super awesome too like His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Nobel Prize Winner John C Mather.