3 things you can do to become a great leader

LAST UPDATE ON March 10, 2023

3 things you can do to become a great leader

Astute leaders, researchers and authors have contributed substantially to what you can do to become a great leader. And in an earlier article, we established that great leaders are made not born, outlining as well what great leadership is made up of.

Zenger Folkman suggests 25 attributes and skills you can develop to become a great leader. In this article, we’ll focus on just three things you can do:

  1. Prepare for your next job. Think ahead regarding the skills you will need
  2. Seek ways to give and receive productive feedback and learn to absorb it in an emotionally health way.
  3. Develop and display high personal character

Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

Prepare for your next job. Think ahead regarding the skills you will need

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered organisations and individuals to reinvent their business, redirect efforts, reskill or upskill their workers – and quickly at that.

Great leaders would not wait for a pandemic to prepare themselves for their next job. They would rethink their capabilities and capacity periodically, engaging their upline or a coach or mentor along the way.

Will your future role require more technical expertise, more strategic thinking skills, coaching skills ? Have you taken stock of the skills in demand for the future economy?

Whatever skills and knowledge they may be, it is never to early to identify them and take active steps to add them to your slate of skill sets.

Seek ways to give and receive productive feedback and learn to receive it in an emotionally health way

If you want to receive useful feedback it usually requires a sincere request on your part for it. The gap between how leaders view themselves and how their direct reports perceive them is often, but not always, huge. How do you close that gap? The best way is through feedback – when you ask your direct reports for feedback.

One of the ways to receive feedback is through a 360-feedback process, not just a tool. Accept the feedback you receive as a valid perception of yourself by others and first seek to understand the meaning of the feedback.

A client of ours was perceived in a negative light by his direct reports with regards to his leadership skills. His organisation believed he could improve and change with the help of an external coach. During our coaching conversation, he was challenged to take a 360-degree assessment. He was very reluctant at first but when he genuinely felt that his coach believed in him, he took the step forward.

On his own, he diligently marked the feedback report with notes as he dissected it. He found that he benefitted from the 360-feedback process which included an assessment and coaching sessions.

With feedback, leaders move from mediocre and good to great as they recognise their strengths, what needs to be done to strengthen them further and how to do it before proceeding to taking any appropriate steps.

Photo by lexie janney on Unsplash

Develop and display high personal character

Those at the lower levels of an organisation resent arrogance from those in authority. They dislike leaders who convey an attitude of superiority, condescension or disrespect.

So the advice to leaders is to maintain an attitude of humility to become a great leader.

C.S. Lewis says “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Humility will make you approachable. It opens the door to building relationships.

We make our attitudes and character conform to our behaviour. So participate in powerful skill building programmes designed to improve your interpersonal skills as this would have a clear impact on your attitudes. When you learn and practise new behaviour you’ll find that there is a remarkable transformation of your attitudes and ultimately your character.

What support do you need for this journey?

So you’ve made a decision to become a great leader. What kind of support do you need on this journey you’ve embarked on? You can look for a mentor in your organisation or through management books. Or you could engage a coach.

Find a coach not because top athletes have a coach or the top corporate leaders have one. Find a coach to provide you with a strong accountability partnership as you take steps to becoming a great leader. You’ll be amazed by your remarkable behavioural transformation.

©Published by Lifeskills Institute Pte Ltd

Lifeskills Institute is the strategic partner of Zenger Folkman for Singapore and Malaysia. Our Chief Enabling Officer, Ian Tan is a Master Facilitator certified by Zenger Folkman.

Zenger Folkman is a strengths-based leadership development company helping leaders elevate their people and organisations. Co-founders Dr. Jack Zenger and Dr. Joe Folkman utilise empirical data and behavioural evidence to help leaders become extraordinary.