David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy & Mather advertising, used to give each manager in his team a Russian doll, which contained five progressively smaller dolls. He used to say, ‘If each of us hires people who are smaller than us, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants’.
Ogilvy believed that each company should be committed to finding and developing giants – capable and creative people – in order to grow in leaps and bounds. Such values helped Ogilvy to become known as the ‘Father of Advertising’ and the owner of one of the most successful advertising agencies in the world. Good leadership qualities and values help strengthen the backbone of a company exponentially.
Here is a list of some must-have qualities that successful leaders display:
- live by principles and are consistent in words and actions. They have good personal character, integrity and set the standard for the whole team and organization with their honesty.
- identify people’s strengths and motivate them
- excel in the art of knowing what to overlook
- find reasons for failure instead of who was at fault
- deal with each responsibility – whether big or small – with dedication
- delegate work judiciously and produce more leaders
- bring clarity into a situation when none exists. They use all the brains they have but also that they can borrow.
- are good communicators – they speak to the point and do not ramble. Their communication always leads to action and reflects the voice of reason.
- see failure as a learning experience
- are the first to take responsibility when things go wrong for their teams
- prove trustworthy and discreet when employees come to them with their concerns
- give compliments publicly as well as on one-to-one basis
- adapt their leadership style to suit the personalities of their teams
- lead by example and do not demand of others which they do not demand of themselves
- do not embrace a victim mentality
- are perpetual learners. They are open to honest feedback and to learning new things/experiences.
- are dream boosters and not dream busters of their team members
- ace at risk management. They know which risks to take and which to avoid
- excel at time management and know when and where to utilize their time
- are good at networking which is critical for creating rapport with people and long-term success
- listen first, speak second and then ask the right questions
- make the right decisions in a practical, timely manner and include team members in the decision-making process. They refrain from micromanaging.
- keep their eye on the bigger picture and eliminate frivolous agendas
- display creativity by finding innovative solutions to persistent problems faced by their teams
The sum of all these traits helps in building agile and visionary leaders who adapt to any situation and command a huge following. American business executive and author Jack Welch said, ‘Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.’
We can all become leaders – we just need to exercise the right discipline, integrity, communication and team-building skills. We hope you effectively cultivate yourself as a leader and reach the zenith of success.
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Sangeeta Datta is Assistant General Manager- Marketing at Viva Books. She finds leadership stories engrossing and hopes to judiciously imbibe the practical nuggets from them in life.