great leader

What makes a great leader?

Leaders, especially during times of uncertainty, must be prepared to make tough decisions, and often sacrifices, to fulfil their vision and grow into stronger and better leaders.

Whilst the last few years have seen PAB Languages go from strength to strength, it has not all been plain sailing for me…

When I first moved to the UK, my family wouldn’t speak to me. My parents wanted my career to progress in Poland, near them and their support, which definitely made the decision to come to the UK though. But I settled into my new home and discovered that I could be happy somewhere other than Poland, doing what I love.

Since my move, I have successfully built and managed multinational teams and businesses in the UK. I have also experienced plenty of ups and many more downs, especially in my early years as an entrepreneur. I faced numerous challenges that other female leaders may be familiar with, and it took many sleepless nights, gritting my teeth and asking for help, as well as hard work, discipline, and resilience to bring me to where I am today.

During tougher times, I feel being a leader means lots of noise, being buffeted from one side to another; it means working crazy long hours, getting knocked back and getting back up again, getting noticed, celebrating wins, and learning some life lessons quickly.

Here are a few of mine…

Lesson 1: Clarity of purpose

Great leaders must not only have a clear picture of where they want to be and who they must become to get there but also be able to articulate this vision to their teams so everyone is motivated to be the best they can be.

It is absolutely critical for leaders to focus on the big picture. There was a period of a few days, early in the pandemic, when business seemed to stop, as everyone was in a bit of shock, trying to figure out not just what to do, but what had happened. This was the perfect time for my team and me to take a deep look at ourselves, both personally and professionally — our vision, values, structure, goals and company culture — and identify any areas for improvement.

I feel that in both good times and bad, honest and inclusive communication is vital. People, rightly, want to know how changes are going to affect them. When we are informed, we feel more confident. When we feel confident, we do our best work. When we do our best work, clients thrive, and we create a better environment for everyone involved!

Lesson 2: Kindness and integrity

I once heard this quote, which defines leadership for me; “Love your people, love your organization and love those you serve, and you’ll have discovered the secret of great leadership.”

While there is a lot that is out of our control during the pandemic, there is a lot we can control. In particular how we treat our colleagues, suppliers, and clients. The “non-negotiable” principle that I expect of myself and encourage from my team, is to act professionally with kindness and integrity. It’s the culture, method and backbone of our business that has helped me find and attract many talented and wonderful people to our business.

Lesson 3: Empowering my team

I strongly believe that great leadership is committing to becoming someone people can look up to. For me, that means asking myself every day “Did I make an impact on our team today? Was I able to help and motivate those around me?”

We are blessed to have wonderful people from over 50 countries with different faiths, backgrounds, and ethnicities working with PAB Languages. As linguists we are extremely conscious of language and how we say what we say, keeping in mind that people have different communication approaches. Being aware of these differences and ensuring inclusive, regular, honest communication and feedback make the relationships in our organisation stronger and more successful for everyone.

As leaders, we should also look out for our colleagues’ mental, physical, and emotional health. So, the company leader’s self-care, as well as employees’ well-being, should be top of the agenda. Having passionate and happy people around you to deliver on the company goals and mission, but whom you also respect, value, and empower, will enable your business to expand and thrive.

Lesson 4 Passion and dedication

In my opinion, great leaders establish the standards for customer focus. Making sure these high standards are embedded throughout our business and that everyone is fully equipped to provide a great experience for all our stakeholders is a big part of what has made us successful.

At PAB Languages delivering greatness and providing the highest quality is always at the heart of what we do. Delivering on our promises and working with customers and associates to build long-term partnerships is one of our core values. Our dedication to every client goes beyond the completion of any single project. We follow up throughout the process by making sure our client’s experience with our company fulfils their expectations, thereby establishing a continuing relationship for future growth.

About the author:

Iwona Lebiedowicz

Founder and CEO of PAB Group. Language and Communication consultant.

Passionate about delivering results and quality, helping businesses to succeed internationally.

Focused on managing effective communication and building thriving relations with clients, employees and partners from different countries and cultures.

Communication Training
International Communication
Multicultural Marketing
International Growth
Multicultural Recruitment

Over fifteen years’ experience in leadership positions in public and private sector organisations leading multinational teams, communicating across cultures, and successfully managing multicultural engagement and marketing projects. She has experience is recruitment management working with multinational food produce, horticultural, agricultural, logistics and manufacturing companies.


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