People are naturally drawn to leaders, but what is it that makes them different from the rest of the pack? You would find that leaders, especially those in business, would possess all of these traits, in varying degrees.
Leaders are driven people, and you can see this in their desire to achieve their goals. Their ambition for success is backed by the intense efforts to attain this. They’d rather take the initiative to get something done than wait. They just appear to put in more in practically everything that they do.
They have a vision
When D:Code interviewed Patrick Cheo, CEO of Adam Khoo Learning Technologies Group, he told us that he lives in the future. In other words, he has a clear idea of where he wants his company to go and would, with strategic planning, take them there. This is the kind of vision that transforms businesses for the better while giving employees a clear picture of where everyone is headed.
A person who lacks self-confidence would find it extremely difficult to communicate his or her vision and ideas, and that would make it near impossible to set a direction. Leaders who are stricken with self-doubt would inspire very little confidence among their followers, making them insecure and unwilling even to carry out orders or instructions with any meaningful conviction.
They’re intelligent – in more ways than one
D:Code has yet to meet a business leader who has not shown an unusual level of intelligence, and we are pretty confident we will not find any successful business leaders who are known for their lack of intelligence! That said, and while superior cognitive intelligence often gains leaders some respect and confidence, there are other forms of intelligence that matter, too. There’s emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ, which is the ability to control and express your own emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy, as well as relational intelligence, which is the capacity to understand your own as well as others’ emotions, values and demands and be able to use these to guide your actions.
Among the bosses and entrepreneurs that D:Code has interviewed, all of them have shown a willingness to learn new things. They’re open to ideas. They explore new ways of improving processes, of doing their business. They’re almost always eager to innovate. Networking is important to them, not merely as a social experience, but because it affords them the opportunity of meeting other business leaders so that ideas can be exchanged. Good leaders are also open to ideas and suggestions from their colleagues in the organisations they lead because they are smart enough to know that they don’t know everything.
They possess integrity
Would you trust someone without integrity to lead you? Would you expect leaders who aren’t honest to have the trust and respect of their crew? Leaders who exhibit integrity are more likely to gain the loyalty of their followers, without which their leadership would be ineffective.
They care for their staff
Good business leaders are well aware of a resource that’s vital to their entrepreneurial success – their people. And they show it. In the warmth of their interaction, whether it’s someone high up in senior management or the most junior of interns. They respect their staff, empower them, recognise their contributions no matter how seemingly insignificant, and provide them with the resources to develop in their careers and personal growth. They are aware that any such investment in their people, in terms of time and money, would pay off in the long run.
They know the business
You may possess every positive leadership quality known to man and woman, but to be able to lead a business successfully, you need first to know the business. To know a business is to understand how it works and have the insights of experience, which isn’t something that can be acquired overnight. However, with time and study, through diligence and drive, this knowledge can eventually be gained. Swatow Seafood Chain boss Jimi Tan has two grown-up children currently in university who could take over his business one day. However, he told D:Code that he would require them to work in the ranks before he would consider letting them run the business. And it’s not simply for them to be aware of how to manage a restaurant business. More than that, it involves understanding the people, the culture of the workplace and the passion that goes into each dish that goes out to the hungry patron. In other words, they need to know the business.