Most leaders rise to the top because they excel at their work. But the most successful leaders stay at the top – and set the bar for others – because they master certain roles that others struggle with.
Here are leadership traits and behaviors the top leaders balance to excel:
1) Kindness Without Weakness
Kindness can sometimes be perceived as a weakness because in certain situations kind people are viewed as pushovers. The best leaders prove that the two qualities are not synonymous.
Instead, they share credit for their successes and offer praise for others’ work – and give tough criticism when warranted. They’re direct without being offensive and don’t avoid difficult conversations.
Tip: Set high expectations and constructively criticize when they’re not met. Use great kindness to reward success.
2) Be Confident Without Arrogance
Confidence can be a double-edged sword. As confident people continue to achieve, they can become arrogant, thinking they can do anything, bar nothing or no one.
But great leaders use confidence to make things happen while keeping the best interest of their people and organization in mind.
Tip: Remain confident, and always look for something to learn in each new situation you face. Keep a journal of those lessons to deepen the impact.
3) Use Your Strength Without Harshness
Making difficult decisions, taking action when others hesitate, and owning up to mistakes are the difficult parts of leadership. And many people hold off supporting their leaders until they see those things happen, which are signs of inner strength.
Top leaders respond to adversity with compassion and don’t simply make demands or dictate.
Tip: Criticize and share bad news personally when necessary. Then focus on what can and will be done to move forward.
4) Model Without Preaching
Some leaders might say: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
But great leaders walk the talk, gaining trust and admiration through actions, not words. They stay true to their values to make decisions and act without harping on what others “should” do. Their focus is doing what’s right, so others follow.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves. Working side-by-side with employees helps you gain their trust, a front-line perspective and an opportunity to share your values.
5) Sacrifice Without Martyrdom
Poor leaders get caught up in all they’ve done to rise and stay there. Better leaders are selfless. They do what it takes for their teams or company, and wouldn’t ask others to do anything they wouldn’t do.
Tip: Before you assign work or set goals, ask: “Is this good for the company, team, and individual to do? Would I do it?” If the answer is no to either, then change course.
6) Be Positive Without Being Unrealistic
Great leaders remain positive but keep it tempered with a dose of reality. They recognize what’s possible and improbable, and lean toward the upside. Then they set a plan based on the reality of both.
Tip: Talk to your biggest challenges and invite them to poke holes in your theories and projections.
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