Exactly what qualities and characteristics make an effective leader?Some leadership coaches stand by the idea that there are perhaps five – and no more.Others say 25.
The actual number of leadership qualities is probably somewhere in that spread. But what’s most important is to be able to do at least several of these things very well.
Some skills overlap, like honesty and integrity. Other skills are dependent on one another, like engagement and collaboration, or humility and self-awareness. You can’t have one without the other.
But all these skills can be practiced and used in combination to build lasting leadership qualities.
Good people come to understand honesty, even if they don’t like the decision you made. They know it’s honest, and they know where you stand. They expect you to do the right things, even when no one is watching.
If you don’t know what your mission is, your people won’t know either. Create your own mission statement, then stay the course.
Ignite your passion to do things well, then own it, live it and breathe it.
This does NOT mean treating all people the same. You can’t. Some people have more value to your organization than others. But everyone has something that is good, valuable and important. Find it, highlight it, value it.
Close to passion is caring. Care about your business and the people in it. Do this through actions and words.
It’s easy to manage with the balance sheet, often at the expense of employees, products and long-term customer relationships. Employees can get that anywhere. But truly talented people want to work for organizations that prove have compassion for their employees as well as the communities in which they operate.
People want to believe in what they do, your product, your mission, your reputation. This rarely happens on its own. You have to persuade people of this.
For others to believe in you, you must believe in yourself first. It’s best to be a bit over confident, without being arrogant. Good people want to know what you know for sure — and what you don’t. Saying “I don’t know” is actually a pretty powerful confidence booster.
No matter the schedule or how busy they are, people want the opportunity to celebrate their successes and recharge their batteries. Failing to celebrate success is a recipe for burnout down the road.
Great leaders become extremely clear about what’s most important. Managers struggle when they try to become all things to all people, or try to do too much out of their area of excellence. Clarity means saying “yes” to the right things — and “no” to others.
Great business leaders are able to get all members of their teams engaged. They do this by offering them challenge, seeking their ideas and contributions and providing them with recognition for their contributions and rewards commensurate with their efforts.
At is simplest and most effective, empowering others means making sure they have the skills, resources and tools they need to succeed. Sure, you must teach them to fish. But you should also direct them to a well-stocked lake!
Leaders who plan to be in it for the long haul know the difference between confidence and hubris. It’s a day-to-day check and balance. Practice confidence that is inclusive.
The best leaders create more leaders, not more followers. Collaborating with people pulls them into the process so they can own it, too.
Sharing the vision is essential. Sharing the vision in a manner people embrace is a talent. First, people must hear your story. And it has to be the right story, and told the right way, at the right time. That’s inspiring.
Successful leaders are not afraid to take risks or make mistakes. They are also not afraid to hire people smarter than them!
A common mistake leaders make is to surround themselves with people like them. This will get you blind-sided every time. Self-awareness means knowing your strengths, and what complementary strengths you need from others.
Everybody’s human, and good people know when you are walking the talk, and living by the values you espouse. Lost values may be one of the biggest causes of downfalls.
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