Strategy is the core building block of your solid business foundation that shows you how to get your business from where it is now to where you want it to be. Without good leadership a strategy will, at best, be weak and badly executed.
Research of leadership qualities over the last couple of decades has highlighted common core attributes that great leaders possess. These attributes are grouped under a term called, Emotional Intelligence.
Daniel Goleman popularised the term in 1995 and wrote the first bestselling book on the subject. He’d studied hundreds of companies and found that when he “compared star performers with average ones in senior leadership positions, nearly 90% of the difference in their profiles was attributable to emotional intelligence factors rather than cognitive abilities.”
Those with high emotional intelligence finished first at almost any standard used to measure business success. This stuff is important.
Research by Goleman and others like Dr. Martyn Newman, have shown that your emotional intelligence, or EQ (Emotional Quotient), becomes more important than your IQ and your technical acumen, as you move higher up in the management chain.
Of the attributes we are born with and which develop over time, I believe attitude, self-confidence, self-awareness and self-reliance are the cornerstone attributes essential for running a successful business.
If there was a daddy of all attributes, I think this one would be it. This one attribute can fundamentally affect other attributes as well as many skills.
For example, the more positive your attitude is, the more confident, optimistic, and empathetic you become. A positive attitude can give you energy and drive, it can make you more resilient to hardships and it can lift others. A negative attitude can just as easily do the opposite; it can bring you and others down and affect yours and their performance.
Attitude is infectious. A positive attitude and can do so much good at any level in a business. The leader at the top can inspire and motivate, a middle manager can bring out the best in his team and people in the team can perform their tasks well and help each other. A negative attitude can do the opposite.
A negative attitude can cause a lot of damage, regardless of the level it’s at. The higher up the management level the greater the damage that can be caused. But even lower down, someone with a bad attitude can affect an entire team, which can result in poor work, which can have a knock-‐on effect throughout the entire organisation.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the impact on your teams on the floor that one experienced person can have over other newer, less-experienced people. When tasks aren’t carried out as they should be residents can be affected and also staff higher up (and potentially up to you) because you find you are losing good people, or there are a higher number of incidents, or an inspection didn’t go as well as it should have.
A person with a bad attitude in your organisation is a person you should aim to performance manage out as quickly as you can if that attitude doesn’t change during this process.
The better you get at doing something – as your competence increases – the more confident you become.
This emotion, more than any other, gives you stability, makes you feel that you are walking on solid ground. It’s your emotional wingman and it’s got your back.
With self-confidence comes focus. You know what to do and where you’re going (and you’ve created a great strategy to guide you). Your confidence will help you clear away the noise that surrounds us all and help you see where you want to be and what you need to do to get there. You will know what help you need and, as importantly, what help you don’t.
You become better at making decisions, whether longer-term strategic or instant reactive emergency-handling. Confident staff members will make the decisions you need them to make to ensure that the needs of an upset resident is managed swiftly, correctly and calmly.
Confident staff in positions of authority will manage conflicts better, supervise and mentor others well and become role models for those less experienced.
Self-confidence doesn’t just influence how you feel but also how you behave. You walk taller, smile more, come across as more comfortable and relaxed and sure about what you’re doing and why. This will help you inspire and bring out the best in your people and build relationships and trust.
A lack of self-confidence has the opposite affect and can be debilitating for a person at any age.
Unfortunately, there are all too many people who hide their lack of self-confidence or have a skewed perception of it and who in fact don’t believe that they are fallible or need help and advice. These are the people who at the top damage and destroy what were perfectly healthy companies and who lower down in the hierarchy can create big problems for others.
And then there are those who think and act with too much confidence. Either knowingly or because they lack self-awareness, they become arrogant and narcissistic and can even become sociopaths. They are the people others don’t like. They are the people who can cause untold damage in an organisation. They are the world leaders who can affect millions of people across the globe.
The more self-‐aware you are the more mindful and less mindless you are. What you do, you do with purpose and you understand and consider the impact and influence you have on others. This attribute is like a regulator for our actions. Self-awareness together with self-confidence are marriages made in heaven.
You have the confidence to make tough decisions but the awareness to consider the implications. People who are more self-‐aware and self-‐confident are more comfortable with themselves. They know their strengths and weaknesses and are happy to discuss both.
They will play to their strengths and knowing their weaknesses, will be able to assess the risks and know when to ask for help. Their awareness will ensure they don’t set themselves up for failure. They can assess themselves honestly, assess their own organisation and assess others.
Self-aware people, also make better decisions. Leaders who possess a high degree of self-awareness will ask the right, and often difficult, questions in order to make important decisions. They’ll weigh-‐up the risks and the threats that could exploit their weaknesses and make decisions based on the whole picture and not just the positive picture that they’re comfortable with.
They’ll ask if they have the capability to compete in a new market sector, the resources to open a new office on the other side of the world, the expertise to compete at a higher level. They’ll consider past experiences and past situations that didn’t work out. George Bernard Shaw said, “People are wise in proportion not to their experience, but in their capacity to experience.”
Self-awareness also increases the control you have over your emotions and behaviour, sometimes referred to as self-regulation. We are all emotional and I’m sure we have all said or done things in the heat of the moment that we’re not proud of. Being self–aware helps us, not eliminate these emotions but manage them.
Self-aware managers and leaders, who can self-regulate, enjoy a more productive, happier, trusting team who will give them their best. Their people know that their efforts will be recognised, and credit given and that they will be supported when they need it.
As a leader, you’ll be more open to their opinions and have the attitude that you might learn something. In return they’ll like you, appreciate you and be loyal to you. You’re steering a steady course and giving them a more secure future and environment in which to learn and grow. You’ll not be lonely.
When you’re aware of your own behaviour, confident in what you’re doing and supported by a solid strategy you are less stressed and don’t worry that you should be doing something else. You stop reacting to the demands of others and don’t open your email Inbox until you’re ready.
Your time becomes yours and you do what you know you need to do (backed up by your strategy) to drive your business forward. You see the long-‐term picture and the potential future gains over short-‐term opportunities.
The people at the top of their game didn’t get there by accident, they were mindful of what it would take, where they needed to focus their attention, of what they needed to do and of their actions and behaviour.
Being self-‐aware, being mindful creates balance; you see the bigger picture, the alternative scenarios and the other points of view. You are more aware should your self-‐ confidence be clouding your judgment and actions. Self-‐awareness is your self-confidence barometer.
A crucial step in the development of your strategy is to assess where you are now. This assessment can be an uncomfortable process. Those who are self-‐aware and have the right attitude will look on this as a learning exercise, a good thing to do because only by identifying the problems can you fix them. They don’t fear having weaknesses revealed.
With self-‐confidence and self-‐awareness, great leaders are also self-reliant, they have to be, the buck stops with them. They may take advice but theirs is the final decision. They have to be comfortable to make those decisions, take responsibility and be independent of mind and values.
With self-‐reliance comes self-belief; the confidence of knowing that you can make independent decisions and be willing to act for the good of the organisation.
Being self-‐reliant is about being comfortable in your own skin. You know what you’re good at and you know what you’re not. You’re happy and secure enough to bring in those who can do what you can’t and have expertise that you don’t. You assimilate all the information you need, listen to all the advice given and your self-‐reliance (along with these other attributes) helps you to make decisions.
Self-‐reliant leaders may appreciate positive reactions and feedback to their decisions but they don’t necessarily need it. This isn’t being arrogant (though others may infer arrogance from this quality), remember the other qualities great leaders possess including self-‐awareness and knowing that you are fallible. Arrogant people do not fit this mould. They may need help and advice but would not admit it nor necessarily appreciate it when offered.
Self-reliant leaders have a presence, an air about them, a quiet confidence. They are able to make the decisions needed to lead the company and they know they can’t please everyone, which is what new managers, who lack this quality, often attempt to do.
Being self-‐reliant and having that self-‐belief is essential if you are to manage and fulfil that responsibility your position requires. Your self-‐reliance will help you make the hard choices and those final decisions that set the direction and the path that your organisation needs to take.
Without self-confidence, you will question all that you do. Without self-awareness you will struggle to see the impact of your behaviour on others and change it. Without self-reliance, you will struggle to work alone, make the hard choices and the tough decisions.
Those who lack these core qualities struggle to take responsibility. They blame others or circumstances for their situation instead of taking responsibility for their own feelings, situation and behaviour. And by relinquishing responsibility they relinquish control.
They will struggle with the hills they have to climb when starting out and throughout the growth of their business. The stresses and strains can be enormous. Without the right attitude you’ll struggle to get the support and build the relationships your business needs.
Great leaders have the self-confidence and self-reliance to make those tough decisions and to be independent and they have the self-‐confidence and self-awareness to seek the help and advice of others when needed and they have all of these and the right attitude to keep going. They take responsibility and remain in control.
The four core attributes will make you a strong, balanced leader. In the list of Emotional Intelligence attributes, there are two more attributes, which will further enhance your leadership qualities, these are empathy and optimism.
Being empathetic can help you bring your people together, resolve issues and build vital relationships. The best communicators, storytellers, negotiators and leaders possess a healthy dose of empathy.
Empathetic people put themselves in other people’s shoes and “feel their pain”. They understand, or at least try to understand, what the other person is feeling.
This ability to feel what other people feel is hugely important for a leader. With empathy you will better, inspire and bring your people together, be a better teacher or mentor and build stronger relationships with your people, your clients and partners.
As a leader, your empathy will help you bring out the best in your people as you take on board their opinions and concerns. A strong sense of empathy can also help you understand what people need. You know when your child or spouse needs a hug or needs to talk. It’s what drives us to want to donate to a charity. In business it will help a leader understand what her people need to hear. For example, if you’re changing the direction or the structure of the business, they need to know why.
You will be a more effective negotiator because you’ll be better prepared as you pre-‐empt their objections and concerns and work with them to find a win-‐win solution. A disagreement is more likely to be resolved if each party can see where the other is coming from.
Being able to step outside of yourself and visualise other scenarios and situations and understand the wants and needs of others opens up a whole new dimension in creativity. Whether it’s creating a first-‐class marketing strategy, strong connecting messages or new products and services that meet a real need, your ability to see things from other perspectives is a powerful attribute indeed.
Is your glass half empty or half full? If half empty, then you can struggle to cope with the challenges that life throws at you than those whose glasses are half full. As a leader you are going to face challenges almost daily and without a healthy dose of optimism (and your other attributes) you could sink under the weight of them.
Optimistic people can handle setbacks and rejection far better than the rest. They don’t view them as failures but as opportunities to learn and do better next time. Of course, the optimist also needs to keep her feet on the ground and be realistic. Take it to the extreme and she could be accused of being naïve or a fool.
Optimists seek out the lessons, learn from them and find the answers that will ensure that a setback or mistake doesn’t happen again. Mistakes are good provided you learn from them.
An optimistic person is far more likely to find new opportunities than a pessimistic one. They are more tuned in to possible new opportunities and new ideas from wherever they may present themselves.
An optimistic person is far better able to find solutions to problems because they’re less likely to give up. They know the solution is out there and they’re up for the challenge of finding it.
When starting out in business, your optimism can make the difference between getting it to work or giving up under the weight of the stress and workload. Optimism, that doesn’t cloud sound judgment, will keep you going when others tell you to give up and will help you see exactly where it is you are trying to get to.
You’ll be able to create a purpose and vision that is more ambitious and inspiring, your ideas and goals will be bigger and bolder, and you’ll better handle and overcome hurdles and challenges.
People will prefer to follow an optimistic leader because the excitement and passion that he will exude will be infectious. He will be able to lift his people, inspire them and give them the belief they need to take that journey with him.
Your foundation will be stronger and your chances of achieving long-term success greater.
Attributes Working Together
Our attributes can work together to create other traits such as drive, determination and persistence.
These attributes will help you keep going when the going gets tough, which in the care sector can feel like all of the time. These attributes will help you keep going when you really do feel you’ve reached the end of your tether.
Your drive and determination will keep you and your people on course towards your strategic destination and your persistence will ensure you bounce back from any setbacks.
There will be days when you feel like giving up. You’ll yearn for those easier times when you worked for someone else and didn’t have the stress and worry and insecurity that you’re feeling. But it’s on these days that your drive will give you the energy to keep going, your determination will ensure you reach the next milestone, and your persistence will overcome the many obstacles that stand in your way.