There’s usually a pecking order in the animal kingdom. There are queen bees, alpha gorillas, and male-female wolf pairs that dominate the pack. Humans are no different. Leadership and organizational behaviour is all part of the survival of the fittest in the animal kingdom, same as the workplace. Leadership is not only a thought process, but it is more about instinctive behaviour. It’s evolutionary. It is imperative for us to survive and thrive. You may be thinking that I’ve lost my mind and I’m over exaggerating, but I’m not. The planet is fully populated by millions of animal species that all exhibit the same sort of behaviour. Let’s take a look at some of the traits that will make us as successful as the male-female wolf pairs in the animal kingdom.

They know their strengths
Play to your strengths. As a leader, you should know what your strengths are and you should aim to be involved in more situations where you are able to put these strengths to use. If you are good at writing, train your team or give them tips on writing. If you’re good at resolving disputes, step in and resolve them as often as possible. Whatever your strengths are, find a way to use them to benefit your team and those who follow you. Better yet, find a way to pass these strengths on to others.

You should focus on spreading knowledge throughout your team. If you’re good at public speaking and someone in your team is terrified of it, use this opportunity to help them conquer their fear and to improve their ability to engage in public speaking events.

They know their weaknesses
Everyone has strengths, and everyone has weaknesses. Just because you’re a leader, doesn’t mean you have to be good at every single thing. The ‘Jack of all trades’ is valued a lot less than an expert in any given field so embrace your shortcomings and work to your strengths. True leaders also make a concerted effort to work on their weaknesses as it makes them a well rounded individual (this helps when you need to have a basic understanding of many different fields to make important decisions and delegate efficiently), however this isn’t as important. Never accept your weaknesses blindly, without trying to improve them and work on them. Doing so, will never benefit you in the long run. It won’t be easy to conquer these weaknesses, but it will be worth it that’s for sure. As a leader, you should pull on the strengths of people in your team to help those in the team with weaknesses in those areas. If you’re not so good at organising your time and doing admin and someone in your team is, you shouldn’t feel any shame in approaching that person and asking them for tips on how you can improve in that area. You are a team. If you can’t share your strengths and weaknesses with them, who will you share them with?! The power of anything is always in numbers, so a strong team with a good level of understanding between them is a recipe for success.

They challenge themselves
Leaders are never satisfied with the status quo. Leaders never become complacent with little wins, but instead this drives them and challenges them to win bigger and win more often. Let’s be clear, I do not mean that leaders shouldn’t celebrate successes of the team, but leaders don’t pat themselves on the back. They are constantly looking to see how they can further improve themselves and their team and how they can win bigger and better next time. Once you get too comfortable with the little wins, you sacrifice on the bigger wins. Always be hungry for more and never take a backseat and accept things the way they are. If you find yourself taking a backseat after team successes, you need to up your game! Let that success fuel your fire and make you want to achieve more! Don’t be afraid to set goals for yourself and the team high – setting them low isn’t challenging or motivating. The scarier the goal, the more you will have to do to achieve it, and the more resilient you will become on the way.

"You're not meant to do what is easy. You're meant to challenge yourself."

Justin Timberlake

They don’t follow
Leaders lead, they don’t follow. Simple enough right? All leaders learn from experience and the mentors and role models. But how can you learn from people without following and copying them? Real leaders learn from others, but still carve their own path. The stamp of difference between learning and following is that leaders have their own way of doing things and when it comes to making key decisions, leaders trust only their own judgement and their own gut. Granted, things won’t always go to plan, but leaders have to learn to deal with adversity. The true test isn’t when everything’s going right, but instead when everything’s going wrong. Leaders know what their teams need, so they’ll take example from mentors etc, but apply these lessons uniquely to their team in the most beneficial way.

Their vision inspires others to act
What is a leader? Well, in a nutshell, leaders are those who others follow. Leadership behavior causes others to act. Leaders must have a vision, and they must share this vision with their team. The more you help your team get on the same page as you, the more beneficial it will be for both parties. Your vision should inspire you to lead and should inspire your team to take action. As a team, you should have one vision and should regularly see how on target you are to making this vision a reality. What could you do better? What could you do more or less of? As a leader you constantly need to be challenging the way you are doings things, and finding ways to improve – remember, there is always room for improvement! Whether it’s a vision for a product, organisation or for future plans, this will help to give everyone a goal to work towards, and motivation to achieve it.

It is important to remember that leaders are constantly being watched and analysed. Leaders are defined by their behaviour and actions, what they say and don’t say and what they do and don’t do. Leaders are not one type of people, they come in all different varieties. They introverted and extroverted, early risers and night owls. Anyone can be a leader, as long as their actions and words are of the type that makes other people want to follow them.

GSY readers – what makes an effective leader in your eyes? Comment below. GSY.