What skills do good leaders need?
Scott Taylor, Executive Director: CRM, Marketing & Creative at American Golf, has had almost two decades of experience working with some of the world's best known companies in senior and leadership positions, and has some invaluable insights to share.
Keep reading to find out the top 3 skills every leader should know!
This may seem simple, but the best mentors I’ve had are those that take the time to listen to every person, every opinion, and every situation. Listening to your team shows that you trust and value their expertise, it allows you to understand them and their motivations/challenges. Taking the time to hear the thoughts of others also creates a culture of open and equal speaking – which is where the best ideas and solutions can come from. It also allows me to make balanced and well-informed decisions. To enable me to listen to my team I sit with them (there is no office or closed door), I have an off-site with my direct reports each month to talk about them, and every quarter I host a coffee & cake morning for the department and we discuss ideas, celebrate success, and spend a few minutes each talking about a theme (the last one was our favourite film).
Keep calm and carry on
This very British saying holds a lot of substance and is a skill I have really had to harness over my career. In an ideal world, there would be no issues, we’d hit all our KPIs, every project would be delivered on time, and there would be no curve balls or last-minute requests. But in reality, that just doesn’t happen, and it’s fine. It’s fine. A successful leader needs to remain calm, pragmatic, and solution focused. If you panic or knee-jerk react, so will the rest of the team. A leader’s job is to tackle any obstacle and steer the team out of the storm. Experience is the key to achieve this composed approach – you need to encounter a few knocks to realise there is always a solution. In order for me to give the best response and solutions I tend to take myself out of the equation for thirty-minutes (unless it’s something urgent). After a walk or listen to a podcast, I find myself calm, focused, and hopefully equipped with a sensible solution.
My success is your success.
As a leader, my job is to champion the team and nurture them to evolve as professionals. If they’re doing a great job, then so am I. So I spend a lot of my time investing in my team – whether that be encouraging them to take a course, teaching them how to manage a budget, or rolling up my sleeves and helping them prepare a presentation. I always make sure that I have sufficient time for the team. Or if not, I make the time. I also think it’s important to champion them and their successes. I want them to be the stars of the show so I always encourage them to present their own ideas and work and I ensure that they are celebrated when key milestones & achievements have been met. For me, being a leader is leading the team to success, not me being a success.
There are lots of other traits that make a great leader, but these three have served me well and continue to evolve with me. And as I look at these points on the page, it takes me back to the early years at UNIQLO. I felt as if I had underachieved and wasted time and money by not following the path I had initially set out for. But has my career has progressed to more senior roles, I realise that my degree was instrumental in amplifying the leadership skills I use today; listening, clear communication, perspective, camaraderie, team-work, patience, focus, passion, and dedication. Without these, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
That takes me to my fourth and final point – sometimes leadership is about trusting your instinct and taking a completely different path. You never know where it may lead to.
Thank you for these fantastic insights, Scott!
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