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Sophie Eagan

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Do you have what it takes to be an executive leader?


Want to be a successful leader? Then make sure you put these five key techniques into practice, says Sophie Eagan.

For some reason or another, unbeknownst to me, there is a powerful tendency to over-complicate leadership. I am not saying it is really hard to master and grasp the whole notion of leadership but we do see evidence all around us in our daily lives, whether in business, sports or any other activity; it is not easy to find good leaders who have great records of success.

The leadership formula should be pretty simple; a huge range of books have been written on leadership and there are also countless courses to take on and offline. This is great and I am sure this does offer some valuable insights, but I have found the best way to shape a leader and help make bright young people into tomorrow's leaders are with the following five methods:

  1. Great leaders are 50%’ers. Whilst most of us like either black or white decisions, the successful leaders are what we call 'shades of grey' or what I like to call 50%’ers. These leaders have the ability to take on both black and white decisions and form their own conclusion out of it, which makes everyone happy.

  1. Love blank sheets of paper. Whilst most supervisors and managers love this notion of having pieces of paper in front of them with plans and procedures, where they just have to fill in the blanks, good leadership executives love to start from scratch and have the page completely blank; every great leader revels in the thought of having the opportunity to think things through from ground zero.

  1. Use the right team. Yes, this does sound pretty simplistic, but it is true! Even though we have brilliant technologies in place and fantastic applications, the truth is the margin for error in today’s business world is shrinking rapidly. That’s why business leaders of today must master this indispensable discipline. After putting in place the right strategy and optimising operations to execute the strategy, the CEO’s and other executive leaders must then be able to find the correct teams that understand the bigger picture to deliver maximum value, stay laser focused and on target.

  1. Taking blame. We all have a natural human trait where we fear being evaluated. We crave acceptance and we can deflect blame and try to get off the hook when things turn sour. Great leaders will stick their necks out and take blame if things go wrong; they are constantly looking and measuring things to make sure this does not happen, but when it does hit the fan they cheerfully accept and take the blame when they are wrong and fail to deliver.

  1. Believing in themselves. Whilst leaders do crave advice, options and also strong input from their team, they all share a massive belief in themselves to make great decisions. They are not scared of going with their own judgement, and this is a trick that every great leader must perform.

These are the top five qualities a great executive leader should possess. There are far more but I tend to call these secondaries. The main thing is building that sense of trust and credibility, not only for the team you are going to work with but the rest of the workforce within the industry. Failing to have that sense of trust about you could see an entire team topple and deadlines become unreachable.

Sophie Eagan has spent most of her adult life in the HR/leadership industry and has kindly shared some of her wisdom with you. She also recommends all business owners keep an eye on working hours of employees. You can read more here.


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