By Craig Hickman (@HickmanCraig), Futurist and Senior Vice President of New Product Development
Visionary leaders believe in the employees whose efforts ultimately make or break a company -- and by proxy, their own success as a leader. If you want to inspire employees to take ownership and invest personally in the company's success, here are five leadership qualities that some of the world's most successful leaders exhibit.
1. Clarity Is King
In 1996, Howard Schultz had one ambitious (but straightforward) goal: open 2,000 Starbucks locations by the year 2000. Over the next four years, Schultz routinely reminded his employees that this was what every single member of the organization should be working towards. Schultz did achieve his goal. In fact, he far surpassed it: By January 1, 2000, there were 3,501 Starbucks locations across the globe. He achieved this by setting a clear, measurable, and memorable goal (2,000 by 2000)--and aligning the organization so that every employee impacted that result.
2. Be Authentic
Just because you're inspired by Steve Jobs or JP Morgan doesn't mean you should become Steve Jobs or JP Morgan. Identify your unique leadership style, and then adjust it to address the needs of your employees and the specific conditions your business is facing. Your employees don't want Mark Zuckerberg as their boss, they want YOU: so be authentic and tailor your leadership to the real challenges that your organization and employees are grappling with.
3. Prepare for the Job You Want
You don't need a fancy title or a corner office to gain respect as a leader. The opportunity to lead others towards success exists at every level of an organization, and those who exhibit the right skills rapidly rise through the ranks. Say yes to responsibility, and be prepared to take it. Know the part, dress the part, and when an opportunity presents itself, dive in.
4. Lead by Example
Leaders don't just oversee employees -- they also demonstrate behavior that others can look to as an example of accountability, transparency, and advocacy. They mentor employees and help everyone around them to be accountable for pushing the company towards its Key Results. While not every manager is a born leader, these are skills that can be honed and developed on the job. Lead by example, and the rest will fall into place.
5. Recognize Your Employees' Efforts
Leaders recognize that what might be a small moment for the company could represent weeks of hard work by one individual employee or team. They empower those around them by offering support, advice, and words of encouragement. Reinforce desirable behavior by recognizing your employees when they get something right and tell them how their efforts contribute to achieving the company's Key Results.