“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” — Jack Welch

At one time, WeWork was one of the fastest rising startups in the country. Its creation of shared work spaces seemed like the perfect fit for an increasingly digital workforce of innovative entrepreneurs. 

But, when the company announced its IPO in August of 2019, the truth behind WeWork and the behavior of its CEO, Adam Neumann, began to unravel. The company was horrendously overvalued. But more importantly, Neumann was a terrible leader.

Team members reported being sexually assaulted and having no one listen to their concerns, others reported being fired by Neumann’s wife for their “bad energy,” and no one could get a grip on the expectations of a CEO who seemed to operate at all times on whims. 

Anyone can be put into a leadership position. They can be thrust into the role of manager or CEO or President, but the title and the salary do not make them true leaders. 

Leadership takes time, practice, empathy, hard work, attention to detail, and persistence. Great leaders create incredible work environments, develop teams that work hard for them, and recognize the accomplishments of those teams regularly. They do not simply sit back and watch others, resting on the laurels or circumstances that gave them a position of power. 

Just as it is true that anyone can be put into a leadership position, anyone can be a leader. As we think about what true leadership looks like, we’ve compiled nine beliefs that we find all great leaders share. 

1. Great Work Is Never an Accident.  

It does not happen by the alignment of moon and stars, nor by serendipity or chance.  Great work, performed consistently well over time, happens first in an environment that has been well-prepared by the leader.

2. Positive Team Culture Is a Must.

A positive team culture supported by norms and shared working agreements allows team members to feel safe, to share, and to help one another complete the project at hand.  

As a leader, removing the pieces from a working climate that may engender rivalry, or worse, division and self-interested behavior, is also a critical step.  

Expectations of the leader must be modeled by the leader.

3. Creating a Culture of Teamwork Takes Intention. 

If “WE” is to be more important than “ME,” then the leader must make certain that factors which create angst amongst the team are addressed and removed. 

4. Curating a Positive Work Environment Comes First.

The alignment of resources, the mindful allotment and scheduling of time, and the securing of proper tools that will allow the team to function at the highest level are the next steps.  

As a leader, understanding and being willing to provide an environment where a team can flourish as they work together is a cornerstone for success. 

5. Maintenance of Systems Is Key for Team Performance.

When things are working well, such factors as schedules and systems are often unnoticed. But like the proverbial “burr under the saddle,” if they are not fixed they cause an irritation that will greatly reduce the ability of the team to perform. 

Successful leaders examine and adjust systems so that those performing the work are well served.

6. Successful Leaders Invest in the Capacity of Teams Regularly.

Taking time to mentor your team members and frame the task at hand so that it is clearly understood, is an investment in your success as well. 

Clear preparation and support of the team leads to repeated success. When success is the expected outcome, it clearly contrasts with an environment where orders are given to unprepared minions and unfulfilled expectations are met with admonishment and harsh words.

7. Great Leaders Celebrate Their Wins with Their Teams.

When the team is successful and goals have been met, it is the wise and thoughtful leader that makes time for appreciation and celebration.

If it is clear to the team that the leader is all about the “WE” rather than the “ME,” they will work exceptionally hard to make the leader successful as well.

8. Teams Grow When All Members Are Recognized for Contributions.

Almost everyone, if asked, expresses a desire to be on a great team.  Many people thrust into leadership roles struggle to actualize conditions where a great team can grow, improve, and accomplish shared goals. 

One key strategy in the formation and continued development of a successful team, is the regular, authentic affirmation of contributions made by all, not just the leader or the stars.

9. Leaders Create Leaders Through Investments of Time and Attention.

On a high-functioning team, the more senior members, and particularly the leader, make time to nurture and grow the more junior members of the team.  Those who perform essential support roles are regularly celebrated. 

Making space consistently to clearly identify and share the good things that are accomplished together is a manageable practice that requires only time, caring, and attention to detail on the part of the leader.

Are you ready to become the kind of leader you’ve always looked up to? Connect with us today.