Despite a lack of formal training on how to be a good leader, it’s a role many people acquire at some point, yet often do so with no direct intention.
Either way, once acquired, the requirement to guide, motivate and inspire people to achieve a shared vision remains.
So, what should a wise leader aim for?
Firstly, though confidence is important, overarching ego is not. As a leader, you may make the final decision but that doesn’t mean that that you must have all the ideas. Team contributions are vital, and your team members are as likely to make the most valuable contributions as you are. Using the best ideas is what’s important – not who had it.
Secondly, nothing is perfect so don’t expect it to be. Even a passionately shared vision is still a vision you are trying to fulfil, and the reality is that you may require flexible and creative use of your available assets, both physical and human, to yield results. However, excellent results do not require perfection. Constantly striving for unattainable goals is demoralising and counterproductive but achievement generates confidence to strive for more.
Thirdly, wise leaders develop and challenge their teams both individually and collectively. Your team is already capable and talented – and your role is to give it the freedom or the guidance for you to identify and capitalise on those attributes through communication and feedback.
Of course, communication and feedback go both ways. A leader should be able to recognise when consulting others – or asking for help – would be the smartest move. Knowing that that they themselves cannot be experts at everything, they listen to others’ expertise and make decisions in the light of it, then take accountability for those decisions.
Good leaders understand that they, their team, their company and their vision do not exist in a vacuum. Organisations will involve an audience of clients, customers or other external stakeholders with whom they interact, so a leader must try and understand their perspective.
Ultimately, enlightened leaders recognise that they can in no way be experts at everything so they must let the actual experts do their jobs. Intelligent humility goes a long way and the leader who reflects on their own performance both good and bad and then focuses on how they can improve is genuinely wise.