Leadership is an art more than a science. I learned long ago that good leaders are great at a few things – thinking strategically, building and maintaining relationships and motivating a team to achieve a positive result. Watching the good leaders I’ve encountered over the past quarter century has taught me quite a bit. Assuming I have the technical abilities to perform the task at hand, I find myself focusing on HOW I go about work so that I, too, can be considered a great leader.
I sit here today knowing that a few lessons learned early on in my career have helped carry me to where I am today. And it’s no coincidence that these are the leadership qualities that we espouse at National Grid for all of our employees.
First, deliver great performance. It’s important to perform well in your assigned role. Knowing what’s expected and seeking frequent feedback is important to gauge progress.
Second, develop yourself and others. Employees at all levels need to continually pursue development while at the same time doing what they can to help those around them succeed and develop. It could be as simple as one analyst helping another with a project or with presentation skills. We all have something to share with others.
Third, create the future. Gandhi told us to “be the change you want to see in the world.” This applies to work, too. Think about ways to move the company, the department or even just a big project forward. Don’t just do what’s expected. Think about how the task at hand can change the game and move the ball forward.
And fourth, my favorite, build relationships. I’m convinced that most progress is made through relationships. Build networks with others in the company. This will facilitate collaborative initiatives and also create opportunities for advancement when the time is right. And build relationships outside the company, too. Whether it’s customers, suppliers, key stakeholders or others in the business community, find a way to meet and interact with others. I promise it will only benefit you.
Adopting these four leadership qualities sounds simple, but they are the basic keys to success in any organization. I know now that this is what I was seeing in great leaders, and now I try to be that way, too.