We’ve all been inspired by great leaders and their leadership qualities. Put simply, leadership is the ability to influence others in achieving a common goal. It is not something that can be attributed to a single characteristic or quality, but rather is a combination of several.
What are the leadership qualities that make a great leader?
Are good leaders born or made is a question that many of us have. While some people seem to have a natural leadership ability, if you read the biographies of great leaders, you can see that they became leaders by the hardships or struggles they endured in their life and by their deliberate practice and actions. By practicing these leadership qualities or attributes, you can be sure that you’ll be well on your path to being a great leader.
We celebrate those who dream big and have a vision of something better for the future. Having a vision is one of the top leadership qualities a leader must have. In an organization, a vision is the goal or the dream of a future state of things that the leader shares with the team in order to achieve it.
There is a Russian proverb that says “If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one”. A good leader has his/her priorities set and remains undeterred, regardless of the obstacles that come in the way. Only then, s/he can lead the team towards the goal that must be achieved.
Confidence is the belief you have about your potential. Our thoughts determine our actions and our actions determine the kind of life we will live. It’s of utmost importance that a leader believes in himself and his ability. This will strengthen the belief of others in him and will help build a strong team who can stand behind their leader.
Great communication is one of the hallmarks of a great leader. A leader must be able to communicate his thoughts, vision and plan of action to his team, to make sure he has their buy in. Often times, there may be conflicts within teams or the need to get other teams to cooperate, where communication skills are crucial to achieve goals as per the plan.
A leader must have integrity to be trusted by his followers. Character in a leader is of equal as competence. When a leader demonstrates integrity and fairness, it inspires trust and confidence in his followers. History is full of examples of leaders and executives who fell from grace because of a lapse in their moral judgement. When a leader assumes a leadership position, there is an implicit agreement to stand apart and set an example in a good way.
A leader must be able to take decisions in a timely manner to inspire confidence in his team. A leader without strong decision making skills may come across as timid or lacking in confidence. Furthermore, poor decision making or putting off decision making can have serious financial and organizational impacts. Decision making may sometimes be required without many data points, but a leader must be able to make intelligent decisions by relying on his experience or by seeking out trusted advisors.
Transparency builds trust between leaders and their teams. By demonstrating transparency in their interactions, leaders ensure that there are no surprises for their team and the team is in the know about the important decisions that are being made and why they are being made. This encourages team members to speak up and be open. This leads to increased engagement and better solutions to problems because of the two way communication between teams and leadership.
Leaders who are empathetic understand the needs of their team. When employees feel heard, they are more engaged and work well together. Empathy helps build better relationships are built and create a positive environment. However, leaders must make sure that they are impartial in their decisions, and not influenced by the unconscious bias that maybe created because of identifying with the feelings and perspectives of others.
Leaders should take responsibility not only for the success of their teams, but the failures as well. It means not finding a person to take the blame if things go wrong, but taking full ownership of the outcome. Leaders don’t wait for things to happen, they make things happen. They do not hesitate to improve things by taking ownership regardless of who gets the credit.
10. Ability to Inspire
Great leaders have the ability to influence and inspire their teams. Instead of using their position of power and authority, they are able to influence and inspire by building trust and motivating their teams to bring about positive outcomes. They are able to influence and inspire through their purpose and passion.
Anyone can be a leader, regardless of position or title by being aware and practicing these leadership principles and developing these characteristics. Leadership is not about having a higher role in the organization, or having people reporting to you. It is about how you earn respect and lead by example. If you work to develop these leadership qualities or traits, when you assume the leadership role or position, you come across as a natural leader and are able to lead effortlessly.