Almost anyone can lead when the world is running smoothly and things are going according to plan. There are no extraordinary expectations when everything is stable. But the true test of any leader is when the pack of cards starts tumbling down. How they handle a crisis is what sets apart a great leader from the also-rans. After all, the names that are enshrined in history are there because they overcame seemingly impossible odds and defied the expected.
So what the some of the characteristics that are common to them?
Belief in themselves and their people
Great leaders have conviction in themselves, their ideas and the people they are leading. If you keep second guessing yourself and your purpose, you will never be able to take a firm decision on any issue. Nor will your team be able to take any decision for wondering what you might or might not approve.
This along with generating the confidence that you will have their back can be critical in helping you combat a difficult situation.
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A true leader is not focussed only on his or her personal development but understands that only by taking along everyone can you have real progress. They take responsibility for any failure and focus on how to improve things rather than indulging in blame-games. At the same time they are prompt at giving credit where it is due and appreciating the efforts of everyone in success.
This encourages people to become proactive and invested in the future of the team.
Great leaders are not afraid to take risks and unconventional decisions. They do not always play by the book and that is what gives them the edge when the going is tough. When in the midst of tough times, they know that the usual strategies need to be revamped and reinvention is the need of the hour.
While everyone else is panicking, a great leader assesses the situation, takes calculated decisions and backs them up till the desired goal is achieved.
Invest in the Future
One of the hallmarks of a great leader is that they are future ready. They manage today so that they can do well in bad times. This means that they create a strong foundation to help tackle any eventuality and have have to struggle less when in the midst of a crisis. They maintain strong communication lines with their people, include them in decision making and invest in making them also capable of tackling any eventuality.
At the same time, they have contingency plans ready to fall back on in case things do not work out as expected.
Make winning a habit
Most importantly, great leaders do not quit. They do not give up because things are not going their way, or unexpected roadblocks crop up. They look for opportunities in every situation and try to convert them to their benefit.
It is easy to look successful in stable times and when you are not getting tested. But an adversity is the time to prove that you have it what it takes to be not just a good, but a ‘great’ leader.