11 Jan “The Big Four” – 4 most important characteristics of leaders
Throughout history, more than 3,300 leadership studies have been conducted in search of the key characteristics thanks to which leaders stand out from the crowd. Based on many descriptions and analyses, 4 key characteristics have been singled out, on the basis of which the term “Big Four” was formed.
- VISION – characteristic that is much discussed and written about
This is a popular topic, so I will analyse it briefly. This is the ability to create a clear image and predict the future, take precise steps and convince the team to follow you along the way. It is necessary for the team members to believe in that image and the future, they should voluntarily want to participate, give their contribution to that precise vision of the future. It is an irresistible need to leave a striking mark.
- COURAGE – ability to take initiative and action when there is no guarantee of success
The two greatest fears of the human race are the fear of failure and the fear of rejection. We acquire them during upbringing, education and the beginning of professional career. We all have them, someone at a low level, someone at a high level. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to face it, to take adequate initiatives and activities despite its presence. Courageous leaders simply dare to take a step forward based on their intuition and experience, even when many arguments and facts are not conducive to that step.
- INTEGRITY – ability to live and work in truth
The best leaders are brutally honest and objective in whatever situation they find themselves in. The best leaders demand this behaviour from members of their team. They insist that team members always tell them their opinion honestly. Many of these opinions will contradict their own, but that will not be a problem for leaders with integrity, nor will they resent a team member. On the contrary, a team member will be reprimanded for not being honest. Team members will express their honest opinion only if they know in advance that they are “safe” to express it. If they were criticised for the opinions they expressed at some point, they will probably try to keep it to themselves in the future, but in this way the leader will not receive honest feedback from team members.
- ACCOUNTABILITY – ability to stand behind our decisions and actions no matter what results they bring
The first and basic task of a leader is to eliminate team members’ excuses. Excuses undermine self-confidence and heighten fears of failure and rejection that arose as a mechanism for protection and avoiding punishment in childhood.
By eliminating excuses and encouraging honesty, the foundation of a top team is laid. This is especially true for a leader personally. A leader who complains about his team members is actually complaining about his leadership. A leader who was given and who accepted the responsibility to achieve a certain result cannot transfer the responsibility for it to his team. He can delegate work, but the responsibility in the eyes of the senior management or the founder is still his. A business owner who complains about his employees actually complains about his ability to organise, direct and motivate the team.
Finally, I will share with you the experience of one business owner (of course without identifying him) who called me at the recommendation of his friend with whom we successfully implemented the process of change in the company.
As agreed, I came to his office and after the introduction, the conversation began with the sentence: “I invited you to see if you can do something with these six jerks of mine” (referring to his six closest associates, i.e. managers of key sectors in the company).
I replied immediately: “I can’t.”
He was astonished by my answer and asked: “How come?”
I asked him: “Who hired and put jerks in such responsible positions?”
There was silence as he stared frantically at me. Everything was clear to him. First the two of us worked on leadership principles, and after that it made sense to work with his team. We achieved great results together because everything that I occasionally did externally with his team, he accompanied internally every day. Success was guaranteed.
The process of change in the human body starts from the head, that is, from thoughts.
The process of change in companies is carried out in a similar way, because a company functions like a human body.