Comment: Leadership mettle

What does it take to lead a team successfully?

Naim Maadad is the founding CEO of Gates Hospitality.
Naim Maadad is the founding CEO of Gates Hospitality.

In the new changed modern world order, what is it that makes a true leader? What are the notable traits that stand out in outstanding leaders?

It is certainly not an easy task to be a successful leader — but there are certain common qualities like emotional and mental strength, clarity of thought processes, inspiration style, precise and consistent strategic vision, farsighted approach, among others. They are willing to take calculated risks, and when success evades them, they absorb the lesson learned and create another path which leads to eventual victory. It is often this approach that makes them trend-setters as they do not believe in cookie-cut solutions.

A marked transformation is occurring in how future leadership is shaped. The current global business environment will shape current and future leaders for the next two decades. To be successful, visionary leaders have to throw out much of what they assumed about leading, and develop abilities more appropriate to demands of the present market.

Let us delve into the intrinsic traits that make the leader and whilst there are many, I intend to focus on the prime five.

First, thinking strategically. Strategic thinking is one of the most important abilities of a successful born leader who leads from the front. Their action and thought line indicates elaborate planning, overall consideration of options, and garnering relevant advice before taking a decision. Strategic thinking requires a different approach on seeing the bigger picture, rather than going by the norm or what they wish to see. And such leaders know the brilliant and innovative ideas that would be brought to the table in a sincere open-minded discussion with the team.

A resilient approach is essential. A calm and resilient approach in the midst of rough weather conditions and maintaining composure when there is every reason to break down is what makes true leaders stand apart from the crowd. It is in the most diverse of situations that they garner the strength to inspire and drive positivity to ensure eventual success ahead.

Third, leaders show accountability and responsibility. One absolute quality which definitely can be seen in leaders is their unwavering understanding of the ownership of the decisions taken by them — and there is never an instinct to pass the buck. They strongly believe that accountability builds trust, improves performance, promotes ownership, inspires confidence. They live by this principle day in day out. Some organisations do away with accountability, because they think that people will feel like they are under constant surveillance. However, when done with the right motivations and the corresponding appropriate actions, accountability will give people more freedom to be their best. This is where true leaders inspire and shine.

Next, it’s the motivational style leaders have. One of the most powerful motivational tactics you can use is to lead by example. Working hard, showing professional integrity, and having a can-do attitude imbibed as a leader are all qualities that will have a positive effect on your team members. If your team recognises that you value the time and effort they put into their work, and you demonstrate the same actions and values you expect from them, it will inspire them to do the same.

Finally, a good leader will be a catalyst. To successfully change something within an organisation requires time, effort and capital. True leaders are the first to be fully vested in the change and are the champions of change. In my experience, this stage is the most difficult by far. Change management is no longer a term that denotes only operational improvements, cost efficiencies and process re-engineering. Change management has become a much bigger, more inter-woven part of the overall business fabric — an embedded leadership requirement that plays into everything that we do, every day, and how we go about getting things done, regardless of hierarchy or rank. In the end, every leader must be a change agent or a catalyst for the change process.

This new breed of leaders will possess a different kind of mettle than their predecessors. Confronting assumptions, being compassionate, engaging their workforces and being less entitled is just the beginning. It’s the shape of things to come.

About the Author: With over 28 years of hospitality experience globally, Naim Maadad is the founding CEO of Gates Hospitality, which owns and operates hospitality concepts including Ultra Brasserie, The Black Lion Public House & Dining, Bistro des Arts, Reform Social & Grill, Publique and Folly by Nick & Scott. It has ownership of Six Senses Zighy Bay. Email:

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