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Long before joining my brother Brian at Buffini & Company to impact and improve lives, I spent some time impacting and improving something else: people’s footwear. One of my first jobs was selling shoes at a little shop on Grafton Street in Dublin, Ireland. Surprisingly, this experience taught me several valuable lessons on business and life that I’ve carried throughout my professional career, including this one:

One size does not fit all.

It’s true for shoes, and it’s also true for leadership. There is no one way to lead a team; everyone has their own unique style and personality. However, there are three foundational qualities that all leaders possess: a clear vision, emotional intelligence and mutual respect.

Clear Vision
As a leader, you want to set a clear intention for your business, and let your colleagues pick it up and run with it. This intention should comprise both company culture and goals for your business. It is essential to establish core values that will guide yourself and your team. You must also set a clear course for where your business is going. Be cautious of moves that do not align with your vision and values. 

Emotional Intelligence
Have you checked your EQ recently? This is a measurement of your emotional intelligence, which translates to your ability to connect with others. The best leaders seek to understand the needs of their team members by taking note of their personalities, strengths, challenges and work ethics. They then use this information to lead efficient collaborations in the workplace. Don’t forget, another huge piece of your EQ also involves your own emotional fitness! Practice self-care and learn to put your own oxygen mask on first so you can better serve others.

Mutual Respect
Carry genuine respect for your team members’ ideas, and hold them to that same level of respect. This culture empowers people to feel comfortable exchanging feedback and constructive advice, leading to a more productive workplace. Invest in this culture of respect, and practice it with your own actions as well! Living what you teach builds a culture that leaves staff feeling supported. Even small gestures like hand-writing birthday cards help contribute. Engage your team in these positive practices, and they will adopt a sense of ownership of this culture that will radiate throughout your operation.

As you practice these three qualities, remember, the style of your leadership is not as critical as the foundation on which your leadership is built. The shoes in that Grafton Street shop all came in different shapes, sizes and colors, but the customer could always identify the characteristics that made up the perfect fit. For more lessons on how to lead your team to the good life, tune into The Brian Buffini Show podcast, with new episodes out every Tuesday.

Dermot Buffini is CEO of Buffini & Company.