“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” —Douglas MacArthur
We’re constantly told we need be a good leader. But what does that really mean? Leadership can be very subjective and good leadership is often judged on results. However, as people get smarter and more complex, the dynamics of business constantly change and the fact we are now having to manage 4 generations for the first time in history, how do leaders need to be to get the best results?
Here are 10 top leadership traits of successful leaders for you to consider:
This is number one. The more self-aware you are the better leader you are, particularly in the people leadership space. To be fully aware of how you impact on others influences your results dramatically. The self-aware leader knows their strengths and weaknesses and knows how to compensate and is fully cognisant of their leadership style.
The best leaders communicate clearly, constantly and consistently. Communication is fundamental to the success of any business or relationship. The more communication the better, especially in times of change and adversity. They don’t hide behind technology to send a message to their team or clients and will have the hard conversation when needed. Great leaders communicate and connect on a business level but also at an emotional level. They influence and empower through their communication.
This is one of the top qualities people are seeking in a leader. There is nothing worse than having a leader who either doesn’t make a decision or ‘flip flops’ around one! It is frustrating! People are looking to a leader to make a decision and then follow it through. And with the business landscape being so chaotic and demanding, leaders can’t afford not to be decisive to move their business forward.
- Leading through behaviours.
It’s not what you say; it’s what you do that counts. So do what you say you’re going to do. Model the behaviour you expect – all the time.
- Setting boundaries.
People need to understand what their boundaries are. This will then able them to inject their own flare into their work. If they don’t have boundaries how do they know what success looks like for them? How do they understand what is expected of them? There is enough confusion and uncertainly ‘out there’, people come to work and seek to understand their place and how they ‘fit’ into the jigsaw. Be clear with your expectations.
- Being flexible and agile.
Something that is needed now. Leaders can’t afford to have their feet set in concrete facing a certain direction. With change a certainty, leaders need to be prepared to be fluid and move in many different directions to achieve great results.
One of the most valuable, yet commonly overlooked, skills to have as a leader. People love to talk about themselves and appreciate when you take a genuine interest in what they have to stay. Listening will help you to get to learn about peoples’ challenges and get to know them better, which can ultimately lead to more productive professional relationships. Ask open-ended questions, be genuinely interested, and express interest and curiosity. Engage your teams’ intelligence in shaping your business.
- Being responsible.
Great leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions. They don’t try to blame, justify or shift responsibility onto others. They have their teams’ back and understand ‘the buck stops with me’.
- Bringing people on a journey.
Influence, empower, engage and lead. A leader can only do this if they have clarity and certainty in their direction and how they are going to get there.
- Navigating chaos.
Leaders now need to be clear on their vision and goals and have a strategic plan to back it up. When they do, it enables them to navigate the chaos of change and understand how it impacts on the business and the team and change course if needed. A good leader is calm in a storm and reassures as required.
Is there something you can stop or start doing, change or continue to be a better leader?