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What Does It Take To Be A Leader?

A boss at work may seem powerful, with the authority to demand more work, energy, time while holding your job at his fingertips. However, this is a functional title given by the workplace. A leader on the other hand, is acknowledged by his followers, commanding their respect and support that they choose to give.

The latter allows you to draw out the potential of your followers, involving various parties working together to achieve the best results. A boss who is not a leader, cannot appropriately elicit what employees are to give.

Here are some practical steps to become a leader to your employees.

1. Allow Mistakes

Many managers look for innovation and creativity in their employees yet refuse to give them the space to make mistakes. New ideas require refinement and correction through mistakes to be practical. Trust you team when you assign tasks to them instead of hounding them constantly. They are humans too and can tell when they are trusted and when they are not. Before they learn to trust you, you have to learn to trust them.

Allowing your employees to make mistakes is not scolding them and pushing the blame to them when they fail. You chose to trust them, take the responsibility for that and protect your employees from the top. That said, it is your job to guide them, nurture them and teach them to grow from there to try again and improve. This lets your employees know that you are a trustable leader who is interested in them and not just results.

2. Encourage Your Employees

Companies often come up with elaborate manners to motivate their employees – awards, rewards, recognition and a list of other things. However, words can be the easiest, and possibly the most effective ways to motivate them. It does not take much to express gratitude for the efforts your team puts into their work. Take it even further, it does not take much more to a compliment on the job well done.

While some may think the employees are paid to do their work well, here is where you differentiate yourself as a leader, not a boss. Tell them when they did well and encourage them when they make mistakes. Let them know you can trust them to do a good job and that they can approach you if they face any questions.

When they do succeed, give them the glory. If you are confident of the work you do, you do not need to steal the limelight from your employees. This will give them a huge confidence boost in themselves as well as you as their leader.

3. Set the Standards

Leading by example is the basics of leadership. No one can follow a leader whose actions contradicts his words. It does not matter whether your team behaves how you want them to. It starts from you; you are the leader. Give them your best if you expect their best, showing them your commitment to excellence and the team.

However, giving them the space to accept the standards you choose is also critical. Rather than forcing them to meet the same standards, exemplify it to them and challenge them to aim for the same standards. The key is to let them commit to it themselves, not forcing it down their throats using your authority. Let them see the merits of meeting this standard and show them how to achieve it.

Standards are set to be met consistently. As a leader, you cannot let your standards change no matter how you feel. Inconsistent expectations make it difficult for employees to follow you to try to meet these standards. Be a stable leader that your employees can follow, displaying reliability and dependability.

4. Be Ready for Change

There is a common saying – the only constant is change. We live in a world where changes occur so rapidly it can radically disrupt workflows and businesses. To employees, change may seem daunting and scary as it brings in uncertainty. Here is where you come in as a leader, to give them a sense of security and trust in you.

Being ready for change is more than saying a few motivational words. One must be able to analyse the situation and predict potential outcomes. While these outcomes may not always be favourable, have a plan on how you are going to mitigate the damages the change might bring to your employees. You must demonstrate to them that they have a dependable and trustworthy leader to bring them through the storm.

To do this, you must keep yourself abreast of all news around the world. Know the latest technologies, events, politics that can potentially impact your team. Learn new skills and strategies that successful leaders implemented in the past and prepare a toolbox for your use when changes come. Lastly, never fear change and be prepared to embrace it. Being in denial will never outlast the effects of change. The faster you embrace it, the faster you can react and come up with strong solutions together with your team to tackle it.

5. Stay Healthy

Last but not least, take care of your health. Just as much as you need a good and functioning team to achieve your goals, they need an active leader to guide them to achieve those goals. Your physical, emotional and mental health are all a part of your well-being. You cannot compartmentalise them, disregarding one of them and hoping the others stay unaffected.

Get enough rest and sleep. These are critical factors for your brain to function well to make important decisions. Eat healthily and exercise, keeping your body fresh and vigorous. You can lower the risks of getting health issues. Take some time off work to go for regular health check-ups to know key risk factors to look out for your own body.

Even if you are a workaholic, health issues will hinder how much work you can get done in the long run. Think far, not just for your team and its strategies, but how best to manage yourself to achieve your goals.


Being a boss is easy – having capital to start a business or building a strong portfolio to get hired in a managerial position. But being recognised by those under you as a leader is a tall order. People look for someone that they can trust, to recognise and maximise their time and effort. Be that person – a leader who will find the team giving their all to support you.

About BlackStorm Consulting

BlackStorm Consulting is a boutique growth consultancy firm that specialises in corporate strategy, profit management and investment management. We mainly serve clients in four sectors: FinTech, Gaming, Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT), and manufacturing.

Our clients and connections are internationally present and range from small and medium sized businesses, MNCs, to government agencies.