How changing your attitude about work can make you a better leader

Effective leaders are eager to learn, are the first to offer a helping hand and don’t think they are above anyone else

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Two of my colleagues once worked as deputy managers in a company's marketing department.

Their job entailed event management. One morning, the department received a delivery of brochures that investment managers had to take to a business event.

The boxes were placed on my colleagues’ desks. The brochures had to be placed in designated folders, along with other material, and then passed on to the managers before 12 o'clock that day.

Generally, the department’s secretary was in charge of undertaking that task, but she was away on leave.

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So, one of the deputy managers got up and started organising the brochures and placing them in the folders.

The other deputy manager continued to sit at her desk and read her emails.

When the head of the department arrived and saw only one of them handling the task, he asked the other why she wasn’t helping.

Her reply? She said that she was a deputy manager and the task was not in her job description. She thought it was beneath her and she did not want to help or take part.

This wasn't the first time that the same deputy manager had not taken the initiative and helped her team out.

But it didn't go unnoticed. Months later, when the department’s head resigned, he nominated the helpful deputy manager to take his place, telling her that she had what it takes to become a leader because she always put her team first.

Many of us strive to become leaders and enjoy the perks of becoming chief executives or senior managers.

However, to reach that level and become effective leaders, we need to change our attitude about work — and remember that leaders are great team players. They see themselves as part of a team and not above it.

When I first ventured into entrepreneurship, I undertook all sorts of tasks. I went to the post office, personally mailed my customers’ orders, did my own inventory and handled customer service.

It wasn’t what I imagined I would be doing when I first started, but it helped me to lead my businesses the way I do today.

I was able to have a well-rounded understanding of how a business is run. Today, I relate to my team members and understand the challenges that they are going through.

A while ago, I came across a fascinating university student and entrepreneur who manages a design and printing company in Abu Dhabi.

The way he led his venture provides lessons to many business owners.

I ordered some custom stationery from him while I was away on a business trip and asked if he could mail it to where I was.

I also suggested that he mail it through a certain logistics company that I often dealt with.

He went that extra mile and personally inquired about quotations from other service providers. He told me that he had found a company that would charge me less than half the price. That initiative made all the difference for me and I am now a loyal customer.

As many of us strive to become leaders, we need to look at examples of great leaders.

You will notice that many of them undertook different tasks throughout their careers and put their teams' interests first.

They went the extra mile. Great leaders are eager to learn, are the first to offer a helping hand and don’t think they are better than anyone else.

The faster we change our attitude about work, the faster we can become effective leaders.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: May 29, 2023, 1:11 PM