Being a good leader and being a popular leader are two things that aren’t always in sync. This isn’t because you must be someone who is not popular to be someone who is good when it comes to leading, its just that the things that motivate people the best with the least amount of effort tend to come from persons who cannot actually lead. It is what it is and I’m not expecting that to change anytime soon.
But there are a few things that people wanting to lead should know, I’m sure I’ll miss most of the obvious ones but (as usual) I’m writing this off the cuff.
The first thing to being a good leader is to understand your audience, this is true for marketing and other social experiences as well. Who are you speaking with? Are they customers, are they employees, if they are employees what social status do they have? Lets say you are the boss of a corporation and all your direct employees are hundreds of thousands of dollars per year kind of folks, these people don’t really need to worry about losing their job unless they’ve overstretched themselves. You could, if you so wished, be blunt with them and tell them the company is going under.
Why? Well it’s a matter of tact, these people will be entirely fine regardless and the honesty might help motivate them to work towards something better. But lets say, instead, you are dealing with a bunch of people working just to pay the bills. Imagine if you brought that sort of thing up every time they talked to you. What incentive is there to continue helping you? It is more rational and reasonable for them to start looking for companies that are lead by someone that doesn’t have their head up their ass.
As a leader it is also important to understand how you came to have your position. This advice will likely be lost on people because there is something powerful about a leadership position, it leads people to think their shit doesn’t stink and that they got it not because of luck but because of some kind of divine talents. You probably didn’t get to where you are by being amazing, I know it might feel like it, but that’s likely not what it was. If you don’t want to believe that, that is fine, but at least understand the following.
Not everything you think up is a great idea, in fact some are going to be catastrophically stupid. It is important to pitch to committee on ideas, this is a bit Taboo in the US where leaders tend to just run willy nilly into the field. The custard syndrome is endemic across the system and is likely not going to leave in my lifetime. This has likely been true for as long as business has existed and we are only noticing it now because of the catastrophic repercussions of a business going under.
If a bank holding most of your countries revenue suddenly goes under because of Captain Asshat, well everyone is screwed for a bit. So now people are concerned.
The final bit of advice would be taking the wellbeing of your employees into consideration when you are making decisions but this is more of a personal belief than something that helps businesses stay afloat. Business is not merely business and endangering the wellbeing and lifestyles of those under your care is an incredibly important and vital thing. I would argue that this interest is far more important than anything else and it may end up leading you to the right decisions.
The thing about big gambles is that they usually end poorly and people usually end up ruined. The big gambles that win are by people who have nothing to lose (being cosmically wealthy) or fictitious characters in stories.
So yeah, if you have to lead a company, or even a small group of people, please understand your position and your audience. A bad leader kills absolutely. Unfortunately they still tend to get their paycheck.