As a consultant, I have the privilege to work with a variety of businesses – small business to large corporations that have a turnover in the millions.
When I first started my consultancy, I was mainly focusing on the sales and operations strategy of my client’s business.
Shortly after I started consulting businesses on these strategies, I started noticing a pattern. My clients would want to achieve their sales goals, but they didn’t understand what the real barriers of success were. They thought that the problem was only sales related with their staff. But when we looked deeper and analysed everything, we would ordinarily see that the problems lay in the leadership team.
You might have the most skilful sales team on paper, but if you don’t have the right leadership in place the organisation will not achieve true sales success.
There is a great saying that leaders in business are not responsible for their customers, but they are responsible for their own people. It’s those people in your business who are responsible for your customers. So it’s those people who you must listen to.
In order for that to happen, you have to have the right leaders. When you are on a plane, you don’t worry how well the plane is designed, but how skilful the pilot is. The more competent the pilot is, the higher chance the odds are of a smooth flight. The same goes for leaders. The more experienced and skilful the leader, the higher the chances are that they actually listen to their staff and will be truly successful as a business.
So what is the difference between a good leader and a great leader?
Good leaders can point in a clear direction and tell their staff what they need to do. They have the vision of where they want the company to go.
Great leaders can do this, but they are the leaders who will listen to their staff first. Because what their team has to say is much more important than what they have to say. They have the vision, they know the direction, and they do that by listening to their staff which ensures the whole business is brought along together.
How do you become a great leader? You learn from mistakes, you build experience and you study. But most importantly you have to be open and receptive to your staff and truly listen to what they are telling you. That doesn’t mean you will always agree with what they say, or implement what they want, but you know that if they truly feel like they are being listened to, they will hold nothing back.
Leadership is a skill. And like anything else, it can be taught and it can be learned.
In times like this, businesses will realise more than ever that in order to get through the tough times ahead, they have to have a great leadership team in place.
A leadership which cares and makes their people feel safe and comfortable in their own skin.
A leadership which trusts its own people.
And how do you build trust?
Trust comes from loyalty. And loyalty is built by listening to staff.
One thing is certain – Businesses are made up of people. And unless your business has got the leadership in place who listens to its people, then nothing will ever truly fall in place.
THE ESSENCE OF GREAT LEADERSHIP IS INFLUENCE THROUGH LISTENING, NOT AUTHORITY