Dean of Henley Business School Africa, Jon Foster-Pedley, outlines seven steps to develop a leader’s heart.

Leadership is not an exact science. It’s not like maths where 1+1 always equals 2. Granted, there are many academics who have written about leadership best practice and advocate the best method to follow in order to attain leadership success. However, the leadership formula doesn’t always add up and, as a result, things can go wrong.

To make the leadership formula work, you need to approach the activity of leadership with insight, lateral thinking and empathy. In other words, you need to develop the heart of a leader.

Be driven by your purpose
True leaders aren’t in it for the power or prestige. True leaders don’t do what they do because they are motivated by money. They have bigger vision and purpose which drives them. Employees and organisational stakeholders see this and respect it, which is why they follow them, listen and understand when they speak. They share the leader’s vision and are happy to carry it out because they believe in it.

Roll up one’s sleeves
A true leader is one who is prepared to roll up their sleeves and work alongside their employees. No job is beneath him/her. They are not put off by the fear of failure. They courageously lead their team into battle whether the odds are stacked against them or not. And at the end of the day, despite the outcome, they are proud of their team because they know that their employees fought a valiant fight.

There is no such thing as perfect
There is no such thing as absolute perfection. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder – what’s perfect for one person may be imperfect for the next person. To develop your leaders heart, accept that you’re going to make mistakes. Accept your flaws, they’re what make you an individual with your own style and characteristics. So when things don’t go to plan, don’t come down hard on yourself or your team. Just figure out what went ‘wrong’ and plan a different course of action for the next time.

Be open-minded
Remember the old saying “There is no ‘I’ in Team?” There’s a reason why its stuck with us for generations – it’s true. Your leadership of an organisation is only as good as the people who work for you. So listen to what they have to say. Take their ideas in board and develop them. Give recognition where credit is due. This way you will develop a thoroughly inclusive and well-knitted team who will take your business to new heights.

Be courageous
Lets face it: the world out there is tough and scary. Your employees will feel this fear as well and, if given the option, will stay in their comfort zones and not progress or achieve anything. You probably feel this fear too, but as a leader it’s your job to lead your team into battle and conquer new heights for your business. You need to summon all your courage to be able to do this.

Be careful what you say
Language is a very powerful tool. It can build a person up and, in the very next second, slash someone to ribbons. Thus, as a leader, it’s important for you to watch the language that you use in front of your employees and stakeholders.

Don’t use phases such as “If we win the tender, everyone will be getting houses”. Rather say something like “When we win the tender, everyone will be getting bonuses”. Put your emphasis on positivity rather than negativity so as to inculcate this into your employees. It’s a small yet effective technique that won’t damage your bottom line and you will see what benefits it returns.

Never give up
No-one ever said that being a leader was easy. Put one foot wrong and you won’t be easily forgiven. You need strength and resilience to overcome the hurdles. It’s not certain how long this will take but the outcome will be worth it.