While the world likes to define a successful leader by their position or income and subsequent power, there is so much more that goes into being a truly great leader who actually leads authentically, inclusively and by example.

It is true that most leaders have high level skills which help them advance through organisations quickly or have demonstrated value e.g business skills which result in measurable success outcomes across a defined skill set. Although impressive on paper, they may also be perceived by their employees as unapproachable, unlikable or even scary. Consequently, many of these ‘leaders’ would not be described by their colleagues as a role model or mentor who inspires their staff to push themselves to new levels, look through a different prism, be creative, innovative or have permission to question the status quo. I have found these leaders destroy company culture and team morale in a relatively short period of time with a guaranteed side effect of reduced profits and staff turnover. Therefore, not true leaders at all and certainly not one I desire to be.

So what does authentic and inclusive leadership look like? How do you lead and inspire people to get the very best out of large and small teams?

Here are some characteristics I am striving for in this great quest.

  1. Humility

People want to work for people who value their opinions rather than ignore or dismiss them. Humble leaders seek input from others to ensure they have all the facts and are making decisions that are in the best interest of the team. No one person has all the answers. If you think you do, then it’s probably time for some self reflection! Be acutely aware of your teams strengths and weaknesses and allow for members to compliment each other.

  1. Honesty

People will not follow leaders whom they do not trust. If this trust is lost, it is extremely difficult to regain – so don’t blow it! Trusted leaders consistently demonstrate honesty and integrity and in doing so achieve the confidence of their employees.

  1. Team player

While a good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves and those around them. It is absolutely vital to genuinely foster relationships and build cross functional teams, spirit and culture.

  1. Decision maker

Decisive leaders are willing to be courageous in what they stand for and makes decisions based on their values and the organisations strategy direction. They are also willing to, on occasion, take risks.

  1. Clear Communicator

High quality leaders speak clearly and ensure that others not only hear but understand the message as intended.  They appreciate that others may agree or disagree with the content of the communication and listen acutely for understanding and feedback which they respectfully respond to in a timely manner.

  1. Follows and Leads

Strong leaders are willing and able to cooperate and contribute as a team member while being willing and able to step into leadership when the opportunity presents itself.

  1. Embraces Leadership

Robust leaders accepts responsibility, accountability, authority.

  1. Visionary

Great leaders create and promote a vision which demonstrates strategy, persistence and tenacity.

  1. Problem solver

Great leaders generate, encourage and utilise diverse ideas and are extremely resourceful in seeking out broad ranging solutions.

  1. Optimistic

Confident leaders tend to enjoy a fresh sense of humour while demonstrating an attitude and expectancy of success. They strive for and love synergy and what they can achieve together as a collective.

I welcome you to join me in taking authentic, inspiring and inclusive leadership to a new level in 2016.

Annie Gibbins

Lipstick CEO