Who and where are the great leaders?

In the realm of business, great leadership is the driving force behind the success of any organisation. Unremitting self-belief, almost bordering on arrogance, appears in many other articles on the topic, whilst others speak of sincerity, integrity and enthusiasm. Of course, what we look for in leaders depends very much on who is doing the looking. Forbes magazine recently highlighted eight essential qualities that define exceptional leaders. These identified qualities are fundamental to effective leadership and can inspire teams, foster innovation, and drive positive change – let’s take a look at some of the points covered in the article.

1. Visionary Thinking:
Visionary thinking involves the ability to imagine and articulate a compelling future for the business. These leaders inspire their teams by painting a vivid picture of where the company is heading and how it will achieve its success; this visionary mindset motivates employees and aligns them towards a common goal.

2. Integrity and Ethics:
A good leader demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior. They lead by example, upholding the Company’s ethos and fostering a culture of honesty, transparency, and accountability. By prioritising integrity, leaders build trust within their teams and establish a foundation of sensible decision making throughout the organisation.

3. Effective Communication:
Commination is everything. Leaders that possess the ability to articulate their vision, provide clear instructions, and actively listen to their teams foster open and honest communication, while creating an environment where ideas are freely shared and collaboration thrives.

4. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence:
Great leaders understand the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence in building strong relationships. They are attuned to the emotions of their team members and demonstrate empathy in their interactions, thus creating a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes employee wellbeing and engagement.

5. Decisiveness:
Leaders who are decisive and capable of making tough decisions in a timely manner. They gather relevant information, analyse the options, and act with conviction. By demonstrating decisiveness, leaders instill confidence in their teams and ensure progress even in challenging circumstances.

6. Resilience:
Resilience is a crucial quality that defines great leadership. Effective leaders remain steadfast in the face of adversity, bounce back from setbacks, and inspire their teams to do the same. They navigate through obstacles, adapt to change, and maintain a positive outlook, providing stability and motivation to their organisations.

7. Empowerment and Delegation:
Leaders can’t do everything – often, they need to delegate tasks to those capable and willing to do so. They must recognise the strengths of their employees, provide them with autonomy, and trust them to deliver results. Through empowering their employees, leaders foster a sense of ownership and create an environment where individuals can excel and contribute their best.



An exemplarily leader

Back in 2021, we had the sad news that iconic Sir Frank Williams had passed away. He brought on the current greats in FI such as Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn. Frank Williams changed F1 forever and nearly every F1 world champion car from the mid 1980s has his DNA, be they are Williams, Benneton, Ferrari, McLaren, Brawn and Mercedes. He was a true leader of F1, and an example of what great leadership can look like. You only have to see the affection Lewis Hamilton has for Frank whilst taking him for a hot lap (do watch the clip if you have not seen it), it concludes with Lewis saying “I appreciate you”.

(Image taken from Formula 1’s official YouTube channel:

I suspect that we don’t realise that we have a great leader until we look back as see how special they were despite their inevitable flaws.  Looking back at John Major, for example, I think we can see he did a brilliant job holding it all together. His flaw was a lack of public charisma and that he followed the force of nature that was Mrs. Thatcher (he was always on a loosing wicket).

The one thing nearly all commentators agree with is that great leaders take responsibility and blame no one else or circumstances – they own the situation.  Let me leave you with an anecdote from Frank Williams.

Racing his driver Nelson Piquet to the airport in hire cars after a 1986 pre-season test in the south of France, Williams turned his car over, and the impact broke his neck. .

“The car banged over a few times and I’m ashamed to say it was either the sixth or seventh rollover accident I’d had in my life,” Williams said.

“I remember the sharp pain in my neck. I thought: ‘Wow, rolling over isn’t supposed to hurt that much.’ The car finished upside down and I tried to reach for the safety belt to get myself out and I couldn’t do it.

“I knew I was going to have the big one but I couldn’t slow myself down.”

Williams had been a very active man and a keen runner, but he was determined to carry on despite the difficulties caused by the accident. Williams’ attitude to his disability was simple – it was his own fault he ended up that way so he had better just get on with it. 

Final thoughts

Great leadership is characterised by a combination of visionary thinking, integrity, effective communication and empathy, and ownership of problems. By embodying these attributes, leaders inspire their teams, create a positive work culture, and drive innovation. Honing these qualities is essential for aspiring leaders who seek to make a significant impact in their organisations and lead them towards realising their business’ true potential and value.

Company leaders are facing a crisis. Nearly one-third of employees don’t trust management. In addition to this, employers now have to cater to the needs of the millennial generation. On average, after graduating from college, a millennial will change jobs four times before they are 32. Most of them also don’t feel empowered on their current jobs.

By Charles Whelan on 29/11/2021