Five Qualities of a Great Leader
Tier10lab’s FIVE is a blog series in which our industry and marketing leaders expand on their respective topics of expertise. In this edition, we hear from Justin S. Byrd, President of Tier10.
What are the most important attributes of being a great leader?
Leadership is not something one inherits. Sure, there are individuals who are born with a double dose of talent, while others develop the talents and habits of a great leader over time. I believe there are many attributes possessed by an effective leader. However, there are five attributes that stand out to me and I feel make for a great leader. These are qualities that I continue to work on myself, because there is always room for improvement and you should always strive to be better in all that you do.
Ability to Encourage
Sometimes you have to encourage people to do the things you know they can do but they just don’t believe it. There’s a difference between knowing and believing. Knowing is understanding that you have the ability to do something, while believing is when you can apply what you know and manifest it into reality.
I try to be encouraging to our employees, which often times means helping them face their fears. I always say, “Fear is a liar.” The only way you’re going to face that liar is to meet it nose-to-nose, because often times that fear exists in your head, in your past experiences, in your thoughts or what your friends and family think. Once you meet fear head on, you will be able to put yourself in a position to truly maximize your potential. Fear greets us at the edge of our ability, but also at the gateway to being exceptional.
As a leader, you must have the experience to go to your staff and say, “Hey, I’ve been there before. I know you can do it. Here are all the upsides and benefits.” The moment you can encourage someone to step beyond their believed capabilities is when they most often find the extraordinary. I have seen this countless times in my career. Once people get a taste of being and or doing the extraordinary their appetites are forever changed and from that point forward, that’s all they will accept. It is one of my greatest joys to see this process occur in people’s lives.
Insatiable Appetite to Succeed
This quality mainly involves the ability to see beyond current circumstances – walking beyond what you believe is achievable. This doesn’t mean you won’t fail. In fact, it probably means you’re going to fail more, but the challenge of what you do after you’ve got knocked down is the line of where leadership begins.
I like to use the analogy of the boxer. We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of the boxers who get knocked down and try to get up, but their fumbling all over themselves.. Some people laugh at that butI see that, and I get inspired because I say my gosh they must have an insatiable appetite to succeed which in boxing can only be done if you’re standing up.
I admire their training since the intensity goes beyond just the physical but also the mental aspects. I am inspired that no matter what happens to those boxers, their , brain and instincts tell them to stand up, where most people in that situation would have every reason in the world to just lie down. But for these boxers to try and stand up under that stress and pain is amazing, and I think that’s a quality a great leader needs to have. What you do after the failure is what truly matters and you must condition your instincts and every fiber in your body that no matter what we’re going to stand up.
Every defeat I’ve ever had in life, whether personal or professional, has never gotten me so down on myself that it held me down. No, instead, I get excited about what it is preparing me for. I look at what I do today and it is really just a compilation of all the things I’ve learned from when I’ve failed over the years and just made a conscious decision to improve upon them. Life and Leadership have a common ingredient – ACTION!
True leaders only use their powers in times of need, not times of display. There will be many instances when you can do something for attention, but that does not mean that you always should. Being humble is understanding what your gifts are and not overusing them or forcing them down someone else’s throat, but rather presenting yourself as an avenue that is accessible.
In my position now, I have every excuse to not take meetings because my schedule is crazy, but you have to make time for the things you care about. Our employees are truly our responsibility and they have to know that I care. The best way to show that to them is by making time. Not everyone needs you all the time but the few that do needyou, really need you, so be there. They will always remember the time, that you didn’t look for time, to make time for them.
Not only should you have to have a determination to get things done, you should also have the determination that you are going to hold people accountable. Being a leader isn’t always about being liked. Sometimes it’s about pushing people to find new limits within themselves. You have to embrace moments where it’s completely awkward and in a situation where 90 percent of the people would say nothing… that’s when you say something.
I always relate to it as SODSAT: Somebody Oughta Do Something About That. I think there are certain pings you get in your belly as a leader that only ping you because you are the only one that can do something about it. I don’t care what instance that is, you must have a determination that you’re going to get it done no matter what. When our gifts are called upon, we must be ready and willing to use them. There are countless moments each day where we get that ping and a true leader responds. Those who don’t respond to their pings risk destroying their own leadership potential. Collectively, I think we were all given the power to change the world; however, the choice is ours on whether we do so or not.
As far as holding people accountable, what I have found is that nine times out of 10, people will always bring things to you that they don’t want to do but can do themselves. But if you end up doing it for them, you will hinder them and further burden yourself.
When people bring me their problems to solve, I have them also bring me recommended solutions that are very sound and well thought out and financially responsible. Then, I put it on their shoulders and have them execute it with all the support they need. Once you can establish that determination in your employees, I think you set yourself up for having a perpetual energy inside your company that no one can stop. People must remember, the one ingredient that is common between success and failure is their contagious. Be determined that you and your organization are going to be successful and you will.
Be Bold and Accessible
Being a leader is a lot about being bold. It’s about understanding what your gifts are and not being afraid of using them. I think the sentiment that everyone is a leader is right; however, I don’t think that everyone applies that ability. I think we all have the potential to be leaders, but the difference is how we apply ourselves.
With that boldness to be willing to share your gifts, you will find that you are so much more accessible. I think real leaders are accessible; they’re open to commentary, feedback or suggestions. Early in my career, I failed miserably at asking people for their feedback, but I learned from that and now do it as often as possible. I think the more you have available to you as a leader – whether that’s data, thoughts or suggestions – the better you will become. I think you put yourself in a much better position to make intelligent decisions.
Someone who designs the plan alone and demands that people follow it, to me, is not a leader; that’s a dictator. It takes boldness and courage to know you’re not smart enough to do something alone – because very few are smart enough for that. And trust me, those few have a very limited scope and realm of impact.
If you are bold enough to dream big, then be wise enough to know that you won’t get there alone. I think it’s a huge smack in the face to the employees whom you invest so much money in to not get from them the things that can be better, processes that can be improved, and things that they like or don’t like.
It’s so restrictive – like tying one hand behind your back in a highly competitive environment where it feels like often times your competition is fighting with multiple arms. Free up your arms and start fighting back.
Lastly, remember that to the world you may be just one person, but to one person you just might be the world. So always be a leader.
I encourage you to stay in-couraged!
Justin S. Byrd is the president of Tier10. He has almost 15 years of experience in leadership positions throughout his career. You can check out more words of wisdom and inspiration by following him on Twitter or connecting with him on Linkedin.
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