R E S P E C T

Aretha was right. Actually, respect is a fundamental human need. Most of us in our professional careers yearn for it. But how do great business leaders motivate and inspire  colleagues, managers and customers to deliver ground breaking, difference-making work? How do they (you?) set themselves apart from the poorer ones?

Perhaps these five characteristics are a good place to start

1. Passion. Great leaders believe utterly in what they are trying to achieve. There is often a more compelling reason to deliver great marketing work that matters over and above the need to simply get paid. Being associated with work that matters drives business leaders the world over. Pharmaceuticals save life, construction projects provide shelter and a place of learning whilst packaging innovations reduce waste and carbon and positively impact the planet.

2. Decisiveness. Making tough decisions, bold decisions, going in a new or different direction, and admitting when you got it wrong are all hallmarks of a leader worth following. I blogged yesterday about decisiveness in football club management and stimulated some interesting discussions across social networks. Having courage to stand out and make a decision marks leaders out.

3. Confidence. Passion matched with courage and decisiveness naturally instills confidence. The leader by default is confident but more importantly so too are the people around him. Whilst passion is innate, for me confidence (like positivity) is definitely infectious. Confidence in the direction being taken, the decisions being made and the work being done fosters greater productivity in people who want to be successful.

4. Inspiring. Most business leaders assume a leadership position by default – whether they set a company up, rise up to the role or are recruited to the role. Few are trained in leadership. The specifics are learned on the job. Inspiring leaders bottle their passion, decisiveness and confidence and package it in a way to ensure it becomes infectious so people buy in. Virgin regularly tops the list of brands most marketers would like to work on / for / with. Why?

5. Approachable. I believe leaders need to be approachable. This doesn’t mean anyone can get in touch at any time. But working in an ivory tower and not engaging can damage reputation and business. Listening becomes more important as a coaching skill. It’s not a surprise to me that during the last few years more senior managers are ‘going back to the floor’ to see what’s happening and what their workforce, customers and suppliers ever-shifting perceptions are.

Being a leader marks you out in a tough economy and creates business opportunities if you preach and practice what you preach. People will come to value your contribution and trust you to, in time, help their business.

Q: Have I missed any? What attributes do you see in great business leaders, that lead to them being respected? Share below.