Leadership is one of the most studied topics in the world. People have been observing leaders all through history. As such, over the years, we’ve gained a pretty solid understanding of what a good leader looks like. There are distinguishing features or traits that are displayed by all good leaders. Many of these traits are innate, but others are picked up over time, with experience.
So what does a leader look like?
When we start thinking about the idea of leadership, a lot of individuals unfortunately confuse it with management. Although management is a top position, it doesn’t always mean that the person who has it is qualified for it. A leader isn’t determined by a job posting or title- this couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather, a leader is anyone that feels compelled to lead, regardless of the job position at work.
Anyone can sit in a little office corner and delegate. Good leadership requires a little more than that. Effective leaders have an impact on just the people they lead, but also the system as a whole. Individuals under good leadership tend to be a lot happier, more connected, and engaged, and are more likely to be self-driven, the benefits of which will trickle down to your entire organization.
So what else is a good leader made of? Here are skills that all good leaders should develop and work on:
A good leader puts honesty and integrity above all else
The topmost quality of a good leader is unquestionable integrity. Without honesty and integrity in all processes, no real success can be achieved. This is true of all leadership positions, whether that’s on a cheerleading squad, a multi-million business organization, in the army, or at the modern workplace.
How can a good leader expect his or her followers to exhibit honesty and integrity if they lack these qualities themselves? The best leaders succeed because they can stick to their values and core beliefs.
Without their ethics and integrity, that certainly wouldn’t be possible. Good leaders succeed when they lead by example and follow through on promises that have been made. Indeed, integrity is the keystone of all leadership qualities.
Great leaders engage in honest and open communication
All the best leaders are known for creating open lines of communications with the people under their wings. When one is in charge of a group of people, it is critical to be straightforward. Followers are a reflection of the leader. As such, when a leader makes open communication a priority, the rest will follow gladly.
Excellent leaders can tailor their interactions and communication style to suit different scenarios and team members, based on individual preferences. This means that they take the time to understand which style of communication is preferred by which team members and they execute it.
An important part of open communication? Listening! Ranked right up there with empathy, there is only one way for a leader to get others to follow, and that is to make them feel heard.
Good leaders engage and connect with their followers/team members
Leading a team or a group of people cannot be the easiest thing. That’s why it is so vital that good leaders engage and connect with their followers. Leading and doing it effectively requires a sense of mutual trust and understanding between the leaders and the people being led. For this to occur, a connection has to be established first.
Being a leader who is more ‘human’ dictates that one is positive, shows empathy and compassion, humility, as well as love, all while balancing power and a firm hand. When a leader builds real, personal connections with his or her teammates, it helps to develop the shared trust that’s needed to build a strong culture of culpability, teamwork, and exceptional performance.
All the best leaders encourage growth
Effective leaders also double up as great team cheerleaders. Every leader should be invested in the success and growth of the people under them. As such, leaders should strive to set aside a budget, even if it’s a small one, that’s strictly dedicated to the growth and personal development of the staff.
And it’s not just development as it regards career that’s important. Emotional development is imperative too. Great leaders empower the people under their helm to grow by exposing them to challenging opportunities, then offering guidance whenever it is sought.
Good leaders are also good teachers
A good leader knows how to show team members what is required of them, it’s not enough to simply tell them. Rather than giving orders, good leaders teach and coach the people being led towards a more collaborative and committed workspace, without cajoling them.
Individuals would not grow if the people that never shared any teachings or nuggets of wisdom. Leaders must be willing to teach so that the people under them can then take their place when the time comes. It’s a tough balance to attain, but when done right, it can make all the difference in the world.
Great leaders can be born, but they can be made too. For one to be an effective leader, one must fully understand his or her motivations, strengths, as well as weaknesses. All the greatest leaders are known for creating a positive environment that facilitates open communication. The best leaders encourage their employees to develop and grow, not only for their betterment but for the organization as well.