A good leader is likeable, hits their marks, and delivers good enough business returns. A great leader has an adaptable, innovative workforce, high retention, and stellar business returns.
The difference? The qualities of a great leader are not your everyday, corner-office approach to running a company. Let’s call it the Richard Branson effect – the out-of-the-box leadership style that makes people sit up and take notice.
To be a great leader, your goals should include designing a culture people want to be a part of, building transparency, and creating a diverse, inclusive environment. See where this is going? Great leaders prioritize people, not just numbers. If you’re ready to create a successful, thriving company, adopt these 7 surprising qualities of a great leader.
1) Be a changemaker
Adaptability is important for companies. One of the qualities of a great leader is that they don’t just embrace change — they lead the charge. Be a changemaker in your company and in your industry. Reframe how you see things to change how you do things. New approaches and different strategies will spur innovation. Other business leaders will look to you to learn how it’s done.
2) Communicate like you mean it
Great leaders have a two-part communication strategy: listening and sharing.
Listen. Every worker should have access to internal communication, especially if you have frontline employees. Adopt digital workplace tools that include them, like Beekeeper’s mobile-first team app. Hearing what your frontline employees have to say is critical. They’re often the team working with customers and have valuable insight into your operations. Make sure you listen to their experience and ideas.
Share. Transparent communication gets results when it comes to engaging your employees. It might be hard to physically meet with everyone, so use your team app to share your vision for the company. Including workers in the company’s direction brings more meaning to their work, shows them how their job fits into the bigger mission, and strengthens employee engagement.
3) Be a little unpredictable
Do things differently. Take a tip from Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff who’s found a unique approach to team building. “Don’t forget to do something for other people.”
Salesforce employees volunteer together at organizations in their community. This builds bonds between workers, which translates to deeper connections back in the office. Stronger teams are more collaborative and innovative. Use your team app to plan and schedule fun, off-site activities to boost collaboration.
4) Hire great people
Lawyer and former First Lady, Michelle Obama famously said, “Find people who will make you better.” Apply this principle to every level of your workforce, even frontline employees. Richard Branson, founder and CEO of The Virgin Group swears by hiring more for personality than what’s on paper. Remember, when you’re filling management positions, promote from within — great leaders are always grooming future leaders in their organization.
5) Build a diverse workforce
To have a healthy, thriving workforce support diversity in your company. Employees should represent different backgrounds, cultures, and ideas. Have workplace policies that support every employee.
Create a company culture that attracts and welcomes a wide range of employees. Recognize holidays that your employees celebrate, even have them share traditions with their colleagues. A workforce that reflects a wide spectrum of individuals will generate new ideas which will increase innovation in your company.
6) Lead with passion
It’s true — a smile is contagious. As you walk around, smile at your employees. They’ll smile back. A tiny act of kindness can go far in building employee engagement. Look people in the eyes and make them feel valued.
Show enthusiasm for your work and your employees will mirror that attitude. This is so simple, but kindness and connection are one of the most surprising qualities of a great leader.
7) Go Gaga
Literally. Take leadership cues from the one and only Lady Gaga. She’s made her way to the top of the pop charts by being 100% true to herself through every step of her career. She pays it forward by empowering others, fulfilling her mission of inclusion through her work. So follow Lady Gaga’s leadership style built on authenticity and perseverance. Paws up lil monsters!