Many positive attributes make a great leader. They need to develop the ability to strategise, to communicate, to prioritise and to inspire trust, to name just a few. However, as well as adding to their repertoire of skills, there are five key things a person needs to let go of to ensure successful leadership. Can you recognise these traits in yourself?
1. Building on prior success
It may seem counterintuitive, of course, a good leader should build on their past success, right? Well yes, if they are content with progress in a narrow straight line. But eventually, as a good leader, you will let go of the things you know have worked in the past and open up to the new and untried. It is a step that requires self-knowledge and courage.
2. The need to be accepted just as you are
One of the worst statements a leader can make is “I am who I am – they will just have to get used to the way I do things”. People will put up with bad behaviour, or even just irritating behaviour from a leader – but why not reduce the level of suffering? Ask other team members, “Is there anything that I do that makes the job harder for you?”. Then after they have answered, say “thank you” (and nothing else), and reduce or tweak the problem behaviour that annoys others.
3. The need to solve problems
You have always been great at solving problems – it is what has made you into a leader, and it is so satisfying. But the shift here is to become the one that can recognise and articulate what the problems and challenges facing the business are. Then, you let others do the solving.
4. The need to run the show
In the past, you succeeded, and garnered accolades by getting the job done. Your job is now to empower others to do the work. Tom Peters, the great transformation guru said, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders”. Let the people you are developing shine. Guide in the background and give them ALL the credit. Your credit happens solely through their success.
5. The need to be perfect
And finally, and most importantly, a leader is held back from greatness until they can let go of their need for perfection, both in themselves and in others. Own up to mistakes – they will usually be apparent to others. Judiciously share doubt. It will engender respect and support, and often constructive input.