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What Makes a Great Leader By Martin Graham

There have been many lessons learnt in my 15 years as CEO of Vystal Property Group. And during that time, the company has experienced a tumultuous journey encompassing a lot of things: contractions; expansions; but luckily for me, mostly growth.  
 
Throughout the ride, I’ve worn many hats and I’ve been many different versions of myself, too. Not only have these experiences shaped and developed my leadership skills, they’ve also given me insight into what it takes to be a successful CEO who can steer a company towards successful growth and sustained profits.
 
It’s not a road that is travelled by many, in fact, many attempt to merge on to the highway of leadership.
 
So what does it take to be a successful leader who can evolve and adapt with the demands of a business? I get asked this often by colleagues and for me, there are a handful of key elements that play an integral role.
 
Just as many great leaders will tell you, there is one element that is vital to business success: the team. The people. The workers. And when it comes to managing people, it imperative you get to know them, learn what motivates and drives them, but above all, learn how to listen to them.
 
Trust me, I’ve certainly learnt the art of listening over the years. In fact, it’s probably been the biggest and most valuable learning curve I’ve experienced throughout my career. And I cannot place enough importance on its value when it comes to managing people.
 
How you lead your team ultimately determines how successful you will be. As a leader, if you don’t lead by example and show them true value they won’t work towards the same goals, it’s a simple as that.
 
The best way to give them some buy in and bring value to their role starts with the position description (PD). I see a lot of managers just issue an employee with a position description and then walk away. This is a common mistake many leaders or managers make. 
 
By engaging the employee in the position description process, you’re essentially giving them some ownership over it, and ultimately you’re creating an environment where they feel empowered.
 
Show them how they will benefit from what you’re trying to achieve by identifying the benefit to them. If they are happy and achieving – even if it’s not money or incentive based – it leads to better satisfaction. It doesn’t always come down to money. In fact I find job satisfaction rarely comes down to money. 
 
So get a solid position description and give it to them and have them come back to you with input after they’ve read it to see if it fits what they think their role is and discuss it with them. 
 
It’s really important to understand each person individually and I cannot emphasis the need for one-on-ones enough. 
 
As a leader, you’re dealing with various personalities who are often within a team all attempting to work together. By knowing your employees and understanding what drives them, you’re in a better position to drive and influence them and relate to them in a way they understand. 
 
This couldn’t be more important than during contraction or expansion phases of growth because different personalities react and respond to changing work environments and stresses, differently.
 
As a leader you need to be able to adapt, but you also need to nurture your employees to adapt too. 
 
I’ve found in times of significant growth, that adaptation is a daily thing. Engaging with your employees one-on-one during a time like this is a great way to identify when cracks are forming. Because if you don’t see the cracks, you’ll fall in them. It’s as simple as that.

 Martin Graham CEO Vystal Property Group