Think of a leader you admire. What are some of their qualities that inspire you the most? Chances are your answer contains at least three of the five traits laid out in this article. Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to leading a team, there are a set of unique characteristics that make prominent leaders stand out.
Effective leadership improves group collaboration, inspires followers to stretch their abilities beyond their limitations, and delivers results. An ineffective leader, on the other hand, because of poor management, can dishearten employees, hamper productivity, and weaken a company’s competitive advantage.
Regardless of where you are in your leadership journey, if you want to become a better leader, this article will get you started.
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Effective Leaders Have Confidence in Self, the Followers, and the Mission
A leader’s self-belief is only a part of the equation. Their enthusiasm regarding the organization’s mission and their confidence in their followers’ abilities to succeed are also as important.
Research shows that leaders’ conception of followers, known as implicit followership theory (IFT) will predict their outcomes. When a leader believes their followers are capable, they treat them positively, which is a surefire way to inspire them to go the extra mile.
In the same vein, when leaders believe in the organization’s mission, they are more likely to put forth their best for its success. So, don’t just believe in your own ability to perform, but remember that any effective leader’s success is a combination of their strength, their belief in the organizational mission, and followers’ devotion.
Effective Leaders Think Strategically
Effective leaders recognize that navigating today’s volatile and complex business environment requires them to make tough decisions quickly, with limited information. Strategic thinking allows leaders to remain agile without losing sight of current challenges. It’s about balancing long-term aims with short- and medium-term objectives.
Regardless of the size and nature of the organization, effective leaders must create a culture where employees are encouraged to experiment with new ideas while staying true to their organization’s well-established principles.
Effective Leaders Communicate Effectively
Effective leaders communicate their vision and motivate employees to go above and beyond their call of duty. But that’s only a piece of the puzzle. Effective communication involves more than verbal eloquence. Prominent leaders develop the ability to listen more than they speak. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, is known to remain quiet in meetings, and listen to everyone’s feedback before he shares his own. He doesn’t over-communicate.
Part of building trust with followers is for leaders to give their undivided attention, listen without judgment, acknowledge, and understand their subordinates. The more a leader is willing to listen, the easier it is for employees to be open to collaborating, sharing knowledge, and contributing to the organization’s success. That sense of achievement then translates into highly engaged followers.
Effective Leaders Have Excellent People’s Skills
Who would you like to work with as a leader: one who cares about you as a human being, or one who sees you merely as a means to an end? Effective leaders devote time to investing in their followers’ well-being. They engage with them on a personal level and forge meaningful relationships with them.
Followers whose leaders care are more engaged and loyal to their companies. They are more willing to contribute and create value for their teams. If you want followers to put organizational goals above their personal interests, as a leader, that must start with you.
Great Leaders Have Personal Integrity
While these five characteristics represent five indispensable and interdependent parts of a well-functioning system, integrity is the center around which the other four revolve. The previous traits mean nothing if a leader lacks personal integrity. Honest leaders are trustworthy, transparent, and reliable. A 2016 survey conducted by Robert Half Management Resources found that employees—and leaders themselves—rate integrity as the most important attribute of a leader. Deservedly so, leaders who hold themselves to high ethical standards make employees feel psychologically safe. They don’t whine, shift blame, or make excuses. Their behaviors give followers the assurance they can share their concerns without fear of retribution.
Remember, a leader is a role model. Effective leaders practice what they preach because they know their actions speak a lot louder than their words. If you aspire to become an effective leader, start building the habit of walking your talk, acknowledging your mistakes, acting fairly, and sticking to your decisions once you have made them.
Becoming an effective leader is not an elusive idea. With practice, hard work, and patience, you can develop those five leadership skills.