There is a leadership vacuum at Number 10 right now, with the political future of Boris Johnson very much in the balance after the farcical display from the PM over the last few weeks. It has highlighted that in positions of power and influence you need the right people to lead the way and set an example.

So in the absence of the UK lacking that moral and ethical compass, it has got me thinking, what makes a good leader?

The qualities of a leader

I have been in the fenestration sector for 16 years. With my job in sales, as well as DGB opening the door to the rest of the industry, I have been around the heads of businesses big and small for a long time. I have seen people that impress me. I have witnessed others that haven’t. Those who I have thought made good leaders all had certain qualities, which I want to explore with you now.

No egos

Those that have impressed me as leaders over the years are the ones where ego has not gotten in the way. These are people where clear thinking and planning take centre stage and they know their guidance and experience is what is needed to execute those plans effectively.

Big egos and the need to have the spotlight on themselves clouds judgement and erodes good decision making. For as many leaders I have seen that work for the company and not themselves, there are just as many where being the boss or CEO is a title that simply gets in the way. This industry has a mix of both.

As a leader, there is going to be a natural spotlight and additional attention on you because of the position you hold. But it’s important that the person and the role are kept separate and the good of the business and the people it employs are put centre stage.

Leading by example

As the saying goes, the buck stops at the top. In my experience, leaders lead by setting a good example for the rest to follow. The debacle at the head of the UK Government is the exact opposite of that and as a result, we are seeing the shambles that we’re witnessing now.

Good leaders understand their responsibility to others and create a positive and productive culture by which the rest of their team and staff follow. Employees look to their leaders for guidance, support and direction. If leaders cannot give them that then that is where the wheels start to fall off and problems in the workplace begin to breed.

This industry I believe does have a number of leaders at the heads of businesses that do indeed set good examples for others to follow. I have seen them in businesses big and small. Leading by example isn’t that hard to do. Be good to other people, abide by workplace rules and guidance, give moral support and behave like a decent human being. I think we’re all capable of that.

Having vision

By that, I don’t mean a leader has to be a revolutionary thinker and the ability to change the world via a single product. These people are few and far between and are often called Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

But a leader does need to have a vision of where their business needs to go in the next 5-10 years. Taking the helm of a company and allowing it to bump along at the same pace, doing the same things and failing to innovate will result in your competition to glide on by you. A good leader needs to be pushing creativity, cultivating new ideas and pushing innovation. Not all new ideas will succeed. Some will fail. But a failure to innovate is to fail overall.

Building a team

There is no “I” in team, as the saying goes. A good leader knows this and sees that it’s the people around them that help to execute new ideas. The best leaders I have seen spend a good amount of time and investment in their own people, to build a positive and productive culture within the entire company.

It’s important that from the top to the bottom of a business all staff and workers feel valued and appreciated in their roles. Good leaders breed positive working environments and ensure that when their company succeeds, everyone feels like they have played their part in that success. Leaders who seek to hog the limelight when something goes well and does not recognise those who have done the heavy lifting will find that their company does not retain the key people they need.

Ability to act

As we have seen over the past couple of years during this pandemic, having the ability to act decisively and make the tough calls when needed has been under the spotlight. The Prime Minister has been accused on more than one occasion of failing to act soon enough to prevent unnecessary deaths and pressure on hospitals.

A good leader has the ability to spot a serious situation before it hits home. Having the ability to act sooner, to move before you are forced to react when it’s too late can be the difference between a company navigating that particular issue well or poorly. Good leaders have the mental strength to make tough calls, despite knowing that the reactions to those decisions may not be all that positive.

These are just some of what I believe are key aspects of being a good leader. As the country continues to be baffled at the circus down in Westminster, it is perhaps a good time to ponder on the points above and see how we can all take some initiative and display leadership skills of our own.

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