Yes and Mindset
The best leaders are those who understand the importance of accepting what’s happened and decides to move forward, irrespective of what has already happened. They may feel frustrated for a moment.
They will take that moment and deal with their frustration and find a way to learn from what happened and make an intentional choice about how to respond to the situation. They do not dwell on the past (successful or otherwise).
They know that both success and failure are not permanent. They also know that both success and failure contain the seed of possibility and are always on the look out for how to develop and grow that seed into a fruitful endeavour.
They are always clear about what they want to achieve. They are also clear about what the members of their teams want to achieve. In any given situation, good or not so good, they always respond in a way that moves themselves and their teams towards the direction that they are going towards.
They are aware of not only their goals, but also aware about their own emotional state and that of their teams. This lets them be not only self-aware but also be socially aware. They listen to their teams as any good leader should listen to (more on this here).
Calm under pressure:
In every good team there is a gap between the status quo and the goals of the team. Sometimes, this gap is manageable and sometimes the gap is too wide to be able to be filled. This can lead to a lot of pressure on the leader to deliver, i.e., find a way to bridge this gap.
If the leader is leading a sales team, it could be the pressure to deliver deals. If the leader is in product development, it could be the pressure to deliver the product / project on time, on spec and on budget. It could be the pressure to cut costs. It could be to increase production.
Irrespective of the function, there is definitely a lot of pressure to deliver and close the gap. Great leaders are able to absorb most of this pressure from their bosses and protect their teams from feeling this pressure, while at the same time enabling their team to deliver on the promise and close the gap.
Good leaders know about their own strengths and capabilities. They also know about their weaknesses. They are also aware of the strengths, capabilities and the weaknesses of their teams.
This awareness enables them to know when to be confident and when to be humble and know their limitations. Given this, they are also confident that they can learn and be creative to find a way out of any and all sorts of challenges and achieve their goals and bridge the gap.
Their past successes fuels their confidence. They also believe in the inherent potential of their teams and are confident about and expect them to overcome any challenge that they face. They know when to be a challenger and when to be a cheerleader for their team. All in all, they are confident in themselves and their teams to achieve anything that they set out to achieve.
Comfortable with Ambiguity:
Enough has been said about the VUCA world that we are living in. How there is a plethora of data coming at us from all sides, so much so, that it is becoming almost impossible to process this data into actionable intel. On top of that, our environment is changing too fast. By the time, we feel that we understand what is happening, things change again.
In this environment, for a leader to be successful in their pursuit, they need to be able to get comfortable with ambiguity, even in the presence of huge amount of data. They need to be able to understand the kind of system that they are working in and respond to the situation accordingly.
When operating under conditions of ambiguity, it becomes important to be able to read and respond to the context instead of responding to the signals. So, the ability to read the “meta” is super critical.
Charming when needed:
All said and done, there are situations when leaders are needed to charm their way out of a situation. Charm is all about confidence, calm, clarity of thought and the ability to influence others coming together.
One of the fundamental skills that characterises leaders is their ability to influence others – on their teams, in their own organisation and if needed outside the organization. You get better with practice and intentional learning.
Some situations demand that the leaders navigate through without getting caught into political agendas of others and to ensure that their teams dont have to deal with such drama. They take care of such situations through their charm, just like James Bond does in many a tricky situations.
In an ever changing world, the ability to stay curious is critical for survival. Curiosity not just about the situation but also about the people we are surrounded by and work with.
Curiosity, when applied to people leads to empathy.
Curiosity when applied to ideas leads to creativity.
Curiosity when applied to situations leads to better understanding.
So, the ability to be curious about people, ideas and situations is a foundational skill that all leaders need to possess.
In conclusion, I think that all of these characteristics are connected to one another. They are all like a spider web. If a few of these are strong and the others weak, the web doesn’t work well. For the web to be strong and do what it is designed to do, all the areas need to be equally good.
Good leaders have a few of these characteristics. Great leaders develop all of them and the wisdom to know when to deploy which characteristic to ensure that they are able to deliver the results that they are expected to deliver.