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Leadership Essentials With Jeffrey Immelt

Innovation and leadership

| December 3, 2015, 5:30 PM IST

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Some are born leaders and some have greatness thrust upon them, goes the old adage. It has been thought that leadership is innate, it is an inborn thing, namely people are either born leaders or not.

But there are numerous instances in which we see that leadership traits can be acquired and inculcated. People can become great leaders, if they want to and work towards it.

Here are a few secrets of how to be a great leader. Using the quotes of Jeffrey Immelt, CEO, GE, we use them as springboard to delve deeper. Wish you all the success.

"Leadership is an intense journey into yourself. You can use your own style to get anything done. It's about being self-aware. Every morning, I look in the mirror and say, 'I could have done three things better yesterday."

 Learning never ends in a life or corporate space, even if you are at the very top. Having the urge to learn is one of the most critical traits of a leader. Inculcate the urge and try to satiate it all the time.

"I have learned that nothing is certain except for the need to have strong risk management, a lot of cash, the willingness to invest even when the future is unclear, and great people."

No risk, no gain is not just a aphorism, but a business maxim too. As a leader you need to be ready to take risks, to believe in yourself, to push the boundaries. But while doing this, don’t leave your sensibility and rationality aside. 

"There is no real magic to being a good leader. But at the end of every week, you have to spend your time around the things that are really important: setting priorities, measuring outcomes, and rewarding them."

Great things are achieved not by doing different things, but doing the same things in the right manner. The ability to analyse, to discern and then improve the mundane is what sets a true leader apart from all else.

"Every leader needs to clearly explain the top three things the organization is working on. If you can't, then you're not leading well."

Getting the priorities right and enumerating them as much is critical for any leader. Of all the things that surround you, the roadmap should very much be right there in the front.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say there were days when I went back and said, 'I wish I'd done this. I should have done that. I handled this the wrong way.' But it's always in the motivation of getting better. I've never once looked in the mirror and said, 'Oh boy, can't do this one.'"

Failing is one of the biggest cost of trying. If you try different things, there are bound to be something that won't work. But that should not dissuade you from not trying. After all, even Edison needed 3000 attempts to be able to create the light-bulb.

"The best thing you can give as a leader is a reason to trust. People want to trust. They're hungry for it. But they're selective. They'll only give it to a motivator, a communicator, a teacher, a real person. Someone who in good times and bad always does the right thing."

In the end, leadership is all about team-work. The leader not only needs to inspire the team but also win their trust. Team work is the bed-rock on which great successes are built and this is where a true leader scores.

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