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April - 2015 - issue > CXO View Point

What Makes Great Leaders

By Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland
Thursday, April 9, 2015
By Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland
Founded in 1992, Woodland is a global adventure wear brand offering footwear, clothing and fashion accessories.

Being a leader today is different from what it was 10 or even 5 years ago. Today's workplace has a fast pace of change and many more demands. It also involves working with many teams usually across different time zones, and others. It's a complex environment out there. Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. It is the capacity to translate vision into reality. Leadership does not have a formula; all true leaders go about doing things in their own way. It's the ability to think differently that sets them apart and enabled great leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to create perhaps the most respected brands in the world.

Nobody can be successful alone and one cannot be a great leader without great people to lead. The capacity to integrate, motivate, and mobilize others to bring a common aspiration to life is what leadership is all about. Leadership is not just about holding positions of formal authority. This simple truth gives hope to the up-and-coming millennial generation that good leadership can be practiced at every stage of one's career. It can serve to reignite the passion of the mid-career professional - that somebody is watching, learning from, and emulating your example, regardless of who recognizes (or ignores) your contributions. There is unique purpose and meaning in every season of one's life - embrace each and lead where you are.

Certain factors influence leadership. One of the factors of good leadership is communication. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what one wants to be done is extremely important. If one can't relate the vision to the team, then they will not be working towards the same goal. Motivation is another variable that plays into good leadership. Employees tend to stagnate when motivation decreases. If they run into a snag, guide them towards a solution but don't offer the actual solution outright. This in turn will raise their self-esteem thereby raising their motivational level. Excitement is contagious. When a leader is motivated and excited about the cause people will be more inclined to follow.Another factor is that employees need to be trusted to do more. Teamwork and the ability to delegate are important traits of a leader. A good leader doesn't manage every single detail.

Personally, I have always believed in the art of delegation, finding the best possible people for Woodland and giving them the freedom and encouragement to flourish. At the same time, it is important to know one's own mind. A leader should be able to empower its team and be an example for them to follow. What is most important is to focus on increasing one's education and knowledge, not only following the traditional way but also through experience and self-drive. Unlike management, leadership cannot be taught, although it may be learned and enhanced through coaching or mentoring.

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