Traits of Effective Leader
We know a highly effective leader when we see one. They give off an energy that often makes us like them instantly—we feel comfortable in their presence. Highly effective leaders have employees singing their praises and can captivate an audience for hours. They can lead a revolution when required and can have a great impact on those they lead and the lives they touch.
As an HR Manager and Public Relations Specialist, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Executive and Senior Leadership teams of organizations. With time, it became clear to me that highly effective leaders have some similarities when it comes to how they interact with others and approach day-to-day and long term work goals. Through my research and observation, I’ve found the following to be a few of the leadership traits best used to learn how to be a better leader.
- They give feedback and encourage
Highly successful leaders understand that employees like to receive feedback and encouragement. Even if it’s not always positive, communication and feedback help an employee know their work matters, and they’re being noticed. In addition, the type of feedback shared by successful leaders is more than praise—it’s feedback that reinforces facts about an individual’s work vs. simple praise that’s one’s opinion of someone else’s work. For example, stating “You completed the project on time without any flaws. Great work!” provides facts and praise, which has been shown to be more effective than simply stating, “Great work!” The latter only provides praise, which is an opinion without any specifics or true factual information.
- They listen
How well are you with this leadership trait? Effective leaders listen to hear you, not to react to you. Listening is a skill that can take some time to master, but it is one of the traits that sets leaders apart from the rest.
- They show vs. tell
Effective leaders lead by example. They understand that when you tell someone something, it might not be as well-received as when you show something. This also speaks to the fact that we respond to pictures and images in a different way than we do to words.
- They are open to suggestions and realize it takes a village
When you take note of highly successful leaders, also take note of the team they surround themselves with. Highly successful leaders know how to hire or create a team of individuals to support them. They also understand it takes a village to create success, so they’re open to the ideas of others and delegate to get work done. To learn how to be a better leader, start building a team that inspires others and creates success.
- They don’t compare themselves to others
We are each on our own path and have our own mark to leave on the world, and highly effective leaders understand this. It’s essential not to compare oneself to others and where they’re at in their careers. On that token, it’s also important to do things the way you feel they should be done for optimal results, which might be different than how someone else will do things. Finally, not that it’s always easy, but it’s important to keep jealousy and envy in check to be a highly successful leader.
- They follow through, keep their word, and uphold integrity
Many leadership programs repeatedly state that we are only as good as our word. If we say we’re going to do something, then we need to do it. If we can’t follow-through, then we need to communicate so to remain in integrity. Honesty and dependability are two key leadership traits.
- They take responsibility and ownership
Mistakes are going to happen and the quicker we own up to our mistakes and take responsibility for them, the quicker we can come up with a solution and move on to the next task.
Early in my career, I had made a mistake at work. Though I held a lot of fear around the situation, I immediately told my manager. “Did you fix it?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Great,” he said, as he walked away. It was as simple as that. At that moment, I knew I would make mistakes, and I knew the sooner I owned up to them, the better. This moment also allowed me to give myself a break and realize that I was likely going to make mistakes again, which was OK, but it was how I handled and reacted to them that mattered.
- They have perseverance and tenacity
Having had health issues for the majority of my adult life, I clearly recall in my early 20s when one physician told me that I needed perseverance and tenacity to get better. These words have stuck with me. To heal, I needed to keep researching, moving forward and couldn’t give up. This is what I see in the majority of highly effective leaders I meet—they have a lot of perseverance and tenacity, which is required for them to achieve and maintain success.
Though we often think of leaders as those who hold management positions, speakers, or leaders of organizations, it is possible for others to hold leadership traits within an organization. You can be a leader with or without the title to go along with it if you so choose to be. If you think you have leadership qualities, speak to your supervisor to find out what opportunities there might be for you. To learn how to be a better leader, you can also look for leadership training on your own, and you might also consider finding some volunteer opportunities that allow you to put your leadership qualities to the test. After all, we cannot have too many highly effective leaders in this world.
Qualities of Effective Leader
- Honesty and Integrity
The 34th President of United States, Dwight. D.Eisenhower once said, “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” Honesty and integrity are two important ingredients which make a good leader. How can you expect your followers to be honest when you lack these qualities yourself? Leaders succeed when they stick to their values and core beliefs and without ethics, this will not be possible.
To be an effective leader, you should be confident enough to ensure that other follow your commands. If you are unsure about your own decisions and qualities, then your subordinates will never follow you. As a leader, you have to be oozing with confidence, show some swagger and assertiveness to gain the respect of your subordinates. This does not mean that you should be overconfident, but you should at least reflect the degree of confidence required to ensure that your followers trust you as a leader.
- Inspire Others
Probably the most difficult job for a leader is to persuade others to follow. It can only be possible if you inspire your followers by setting a good example. When the going gets tough, they look up to you and see how you react to the situation. If you handle it well, they will follow you. As a leader, should think positive and this positive approach should be visible through your actions. Stay calm under pressure and keep the motivation level up. As John Quincy Adams puts it, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” If you are successful in inspiring your subordinates, you can easily overcome any current and future challenge easily.
- Commitment and Passion
Your teams look up to you and if you want them to give them their all, you will have to be passionate about it too. When your teammates see you getting your hands dirty, they will also give their best shot. It will also help you to gain the respect of your subordinates and infuse new energy in your team members, which helps them to perform better. If they feel that you are not fully committed or lacks passion, then it would be an uphill task for the leader to motivate your followers to achieve the goal.
- Good Communicator
Until you clearly communicate your vision to your team and tell them the strategy to achieve the goal, it will be very difficult for you to get the results you want. Simply put, if you are unable to communicate your message effectively to your team, you can never be a good leader. A good communicator can be a good leader. Words have the power to motivate people and make them do the unthinkable. If you use them effectively, you can also achieve better results.
- Decision-Making Capabilities
Apart from having a futuristic vision, a leader should have the ability to take the right decision at the right time. Decisions taken by leaders have a profound impact on masses. A leader should think long and hard before taking a decision but once the decision is taken, stand by it. Although, most leaders take decisions on their own, but it is highly recommended that you consult key stakeholders before taking a decision. After all, they are the ones who will benefit or suffer from your decisions.
When it comes to accountability, you need to follow the approach highlighted by Arnold H Glasow when he said, “A good leader takes little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.” Make sure that every one of your subordinates is accountable for what they are doing. If they do well, give them a pat on the back but if they struggle, make them realize their mistakes and work together to improve. Holding them accountable for their actions will create a sense of responsibility among your subordinates and they will go about the business more seriously.
- Delegation and Empowerment
You cannot do everything, right. It is important for a leader to focus on key responsibilities while leaving the rest to others. By that, I mean empowering your followers and delegating tasks to them. If you continue to micromanage your subordinates, it will develop a lack of trust and more importantly, you will not be able to focus on important matters, as you should be. Delegate tasks to your subordinates and see how they perform. Provide them with all the resources and support they need to achieve the objective and give them a chance to bear the responsibility.
- Creativity and Innovation
What separates a leader from a follower? Steve Jobs, the greatest visionary of our time answers this question this way, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” In order to get ahead in today’s fast-paced world, a leader must be creative and innovative at the same time. Creative thinking and constant innovation is what makes you and your team stand out from the crowd. Think out of the box to come up with unique ideas and turn those ideas and goals into reality.
Last but certainly not the least, is empathy. Leaders should develop empathy with their followers. Unfortunately, most leaders follow a dictatorial style and neglect empathy altogether. Due to this, they fail to make a closer connection with their followers. Understanding the problems of your followers and feeling their pain is the first step to become an effective leader. Even that is not enough until you work hard and provide your followers with the suitable solution to their problems.
To become a good leader, one must have all these qualities but if you lack some of these qualities, then you might struggle to make the mark in the world of leadership. You will have to set a good example for others to follow. That is where your commitment, passion, empathy, honesty and integrity come into play. Good communication skills and decision-making capabilities also play a vital role in success and failure of a leader. Lastly, innovation and creative thinking, as well as the futuristic vision, are a couple of key traits which make a leader stand out.