Four Habits Of Great Leaders

Debbie Rigger

Someone wiser than myself once said that great leaders don’t create followers. Instead, they create more leaders. Recently, SAP was recognized as a Global Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute. Above such criteria as talent strategy and company culture, the award is judged on how organizations inspire leadership in their workplace.

Because great leaders practice what they preach, I want to share our four habits of great leaders with you.

1. Asking “Why?”

In a recent interview with Inc.com, this was the very first lesson in leadership our CEO shared. The lesson itself is a three-step process adapted from Simon Sinek’s famous “Golden Circle”. It looks like this:

  1. Ask “Why does our business exist?”
  2. Ask “How does our business fulfill that ‘why?”
  3. Ask “What will our business do to fulfill that ‘why?”

As you ask these questions, you must remember that you exist for something much better than making money. Whether you’re saving lives or just making them easier, make your team aware that they’re working towards a higher purpose.

2. Hiring diverse talent

I’ve written previously about the benefits of a diverse workforce, and they’re worth repeating. By building a diverse leadership team, great leaders build a beacon for better talent. As well as attracting external talent, your existing employees will appreciate that people like themselves can become leaders.

Most importantly, a diversity of action can only begin with a diversity of leadership.

3. Collaborating

As we move away from the days of one-to-many communication, great companies are fostering collaboration between leaders and employees. To foster collaboration, you must begin by establishing clear lines of two-way communication. Ideally, this communication should be face-to-face; however, video communication can also humanize this interaction.

With these lines established, you should only encourage communication when you come across a problem. Encouraging collaboration at all times can open the floodgates to irrelevant comments. This will only frustrate your team when their well-meaning suggestions are inevitably ignored.

As well as encouraging communication, show your team how to frame their suggestions effectively. Teach them the language your own leaders are likely to listen to. Above all, be transparent about the resources they have available to solve the problem. By doing this, you may uncover those insights that create great companies.

4. Covering your weaknesses

The strength of your leadership team should cover your shortcomings. This begins with being honest about your areas for improvement. Being vulnerable can be intimidating, but don’t be afraid.

Every great leader is human, and every human is imperfect.

Just look at Elon Musk. The man is a magnificent leader and a notoriously nervous public speaker. For this reason, he employs more engaging leaders to speak during his SpaceX launches. If you build a team which excels where you struggle, they will take you to the stars.

By making a habit of these four habits, you can guide your company to greatness. Find out more by following our spotlights on great leaders at SAP.


Debbie Rigger

About Debbie Rigger

Debbie is Head of Human Resources for SAP ANZ.