Positivity and challenge in leadership are based on confidence

I like to watch the leaders and learn how to do things but especially how not to do things.

I believe we learn until the day we die and therefore as a leader I will always observe other leaders. Two of the key traits that I believe are fundamental to leadership are positivity and acceptance of challenges. I have always been happy if someone from one of my organizations challenges me. I think it’s extremely healthy and we’re always improving. Because if I can’t persuade the challenger that my path is the best, then I have to consider taking theirs if it suits the organization.

Leaders without challenge can see themselves as omnipotent and can quickly become dictators within their own organization. When this happens, they are rarely presented with good ideas and new ideas, and the organization has the glass ceiling of the competence and ingenuity of the leader.

But I think before the challenge there has to be two things in any organization. The first is trust. Everyone needs to trust each other to do their jobs effectively and to be honest in a truly well-run organization. It is one of the fundamentals of a good leader and his development of confidence within an organization where in many it seems absent. Interesting that Hopin CEO Johnny Boufarhat is the youngest billionaire on the Sunday Times Rich list. His entire organization operates entirely remotely. He works in an Airbnb house in Barcelona and his company does not have an office. He has to trust his people and he has 650. Hopin was founded in 2019 and is an online hosting company. I have used it several times with great success. This facilitates large virtual conferences. He founded it on the theory that email conversations were heavy and difficult.

Compare this type of work with a business where you log in and out and are constantly watched. When work is hampered by constant face-to-face meetings, performance is judged by how you work and is based on time spent in the office. At Hopin, there is a monthly online “town hall” for all 650 staff members and a monthly online staff survey, ensuring effective two-way communication in a trusting but stimulating environment.

Other innovations like this in other businesses where trust is visible include Virgin, a company that allows as much time off as you want for as long as you hit your goals. Another software company is 10Pines, where staff set each other’s salaries. The Addison Lee Taxi Company allows moms to bring babies to work. And a billion pound company, Octopus Energy has no HR within the company.

With confidence comes the ability to challenge and this is evident in all of these endeavors. Leaders need to be challenged, they need to be as good as they can be. And that only comes with trust, transparency, and effective communication, which is another thing about all of these forward-thinking companies.

At a recent Motiv-8 board meeting, we discussed the challenge and agreed that all of our fellow leaders need to understand the importance of the challenge, and this underpins our philosophy of continuous improvement. But everyone understands before you can challenge your team, you need to show them how much you care about each of them. The challenge is the thing that keeps an organization healthy. The challenge is effective communication and that only comes where there is trust.

If you want to learn how to challenge and heal at the same time, read Kim Scott’s book Radical Candor, “How To Get What You Want By Saying What You Think.” An inspiring read for any aspiring or experienced leader.


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