The success or failure of an organization depends on its culture.
An organization with a weak culture shows the below problems often encounter the same challenges over and over again. It even finds completing every day orders a daunting task and grows at a snail’s pace. Not just the leader, even the staff, finds this stunted growth frustrating.
An organization with a strong culture is the exact opposite. It functions like a single unit where all departments work cohesively with one another. It’s the one where people take the initiative and remain accountable for their actions. All this allows a good leader to focus on larger aspects like growth.
Culture is more of a top-down aspect than a bottom-up one. This means that the key factor contributes to a company’s culture is its leadership, more than the people. To build a strong culture, here are five key traits of an effective leader.
1. Walk the Talk
The biggest trait of an effective leader is that they lead by example.
They hold their people to high standards of performance. But more importantly, they set higher standards for themselves. They keep their word, complete action points assigned to them, and show their people the way through actions more than words.
2. Take quick decisions
Another trait of an effective leader is that they take quick decisions.
Rather than dragging their feet, they address issues quickly, which in turn, allows their people to act quickly. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said he believes in making “high-quality, high-velocity decisions.”
To make quick decisions, collect just enough information – 70 percent data is enough instead of 90 percent. This lets you move forward and learn from your decisions. Otherwise, you can get sucked into analysis paralysis and turn your organization from a swift gazelle into a slow elephant.
But today, everyone makes quick decisions. How can leaders ensure that their decisions don’t drive the company into a ditch?
3. Identify Root Causes
Not every decision will be right. What’s important for great leaders is to increase the number of right decisions and learn from the ones they don’t get right.
The probability of making the decision increases when you get to the root of a problem instead of addressing superficial details. Techniques like Inversion and 5 Why’s are effective to help you achieve this.
Identifying root causes will make you take well-thought decisions. It lets you stick to your decisions instead of changing your mind all the time. This means your word holds value and inspires your people to do the same.
4. Thinking long-term
Everyone is fire-fighting today. CEOs are constantly trying to live up to expectations of the board, the media, and shareholders. Or they’re busy creating images for themselves.
Everyone is tempted to give in to short-term goals. It’s easier.
But effective leaders think long-term. They don’t let short term goals interfere with their long-term vision, and this enables them to build long-lasting companies that keep disrupting the competition.
You can do this too. You can think about strategies to leapfrog your competition and grow your business. Just spend fifteen minutes a day in silence, thinking about what you should do to achieve your long-term goals. Bill Gates would schedule ‘think weeks’ where he disconnected himself from the world to ponder on the future of Microsoft.
“In the short run, a market is a voting machine, but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.” – Benjamin Graham
5. Build a Psychological Safety Zone
People give their best at work when they feel safe when they know that leaders don’t their mistakes like the end of the world.
Effective leaders do this marvelously. Rather than breathing fire, they work with their people to identify why the mistake occurred and what they can learn from it. When people learn from their own mistakes, they take more initiative and improve themselves. This fosters a culture of continuous learning and development in the organization.
How will you build a psychological safety net for your people?
Effective leaders are not tyrants. They’re not obsessed with the outcome. Instead, they focus on the process, on high performance, and continuous improvement. Examine any company that exploded on the scene, and you’ll find years (even decades) of hard work that went in before it. If you prioritize the right aspects, you can build the company of your dreams. But remember, the foundation for the success or failure of your company lies on you, the leader.