Great Leaders come in all different shapes, sizes and from all different walks of life. You don’t have to be the President of the United States to be considered a leader. Whether you’re a teacher, coach or in a managerial position, there are certain characteristics that go into becoming a great leader. Some find it easier to decipher what qualities a bad leader may possess, rather than a great one. When something goes wrong it is easy to blame it on bad leadership. How can we decide what qualities make up a great leader?
Being a great leader means honing in on your specific skill set, and using your knowledge to teach and lead others to success. There are hundreds of articles and books on how to become a great leader. Although these are helpful tools, experiencing being in a leadership role is the only way to see if you have the characteristics needed. Here are the top ten characteristics that a leader should possess to achieve greatness.
The well known quote by C.S. Lewis says, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Leading by example is important to being a successful leader, but if you are not honest with your employees, how do you expect honesty in return? This characteristic may seem obvious, but sadly when people come into a leadership role and gain authority, this goes right out the door.
A great leader keeps their values in mind in everything they do, and without compromise. They establish trust with their followers so in turn they reciprocate honesty. Employees must trust who they are working for to feel safe and secure in their work environment. Think of it this way, integrity should be the foundation for all leaders.
Having strong communication skills is also a vital trait to becoming a great leader. There are a variety of different circumstances in which you will need to be a good communicator. Without this skill set, many things relayed to an employee or student can be lost in translation. As a leader you need to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently to get your message across.
As a leader you may be required to make speeches or hold meetings where you are addressing the room. Each of these tasks require great communication skills. As a manager or professor you will have to address employees or students face to face. Whether you are assigning tasks for your employee or having a meeting on progression, communication will come in handy.
Just as important as it is for a leader to have exceptional communication skills, they must be able to listen as well. If your employees or students are expected to listen intently to what you are saying, you must return the same expectations. Listening to your followers will give you a better understanding of the needs and wants they have. In turn building trust and a healthy environment for everyone.
When stepping into any leadership role, it is important to have a passion for what you are doing, or what your objective is. People get inspired and love getting involved with someone who is passionate about what they believe in. Passion is infectious and will elevate productivity in the workplace or whatever the scenario. Don’t be afraid to express your passions from the get go so everyone is on the same page, and working towards the same goals.
Every leader has a vision of what they are looking to accomplish. They must be passionate about this vision and clearly articulate their vision to their followers. Once you and your followers begin working towards these goals you will find out if your vision has been explained passionately. If not, your followers will begin to be uninspired and work will decline.
Once your vision has been shown to your followers, it is the leaders responsibility to keep them motivated and inspired.
As a leader it is important to carry yourself with a positive attitude. Like we spoke above, when becoming a leader all eyes are on you, and you must lead by example. If you want your followers to be positive and have a positive outlook, you must as well. When walking into a work environment, you don’t want there to be tension or heaviness in the air. With this attitude there is going to be no productivity or a healthy work atmosphere.
Not everyone’s personalities always mesh, and that is unavoidable. As a leader your job is to make it work and bring everyone together as one. You have to set the tone of respect and positivity from the beginning. Even when things seem to be going wrong, you as the leader need to pick everyone’s spirits up and keep them motivated.
Confidence is key, because no one wants a push over as a leader. Confidence is a hard characteristic to have, but being assertive and being able to take charge gains respect. There is a fine line in the leadership realm between confidence and arrogance. You can be confident in a humbling way, which is the type of confidence a leader should possess.
As a leader your followers will always look to you when things aren’t going the right way. If you are not confident in your answers and solutions the respect and trust they once had will begin to dissipate. It is easy to see someone faking confidence, so practice in the mirror and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
This goes hand in hand with all of the characteristics we have spoken about and still will. Without integrity, passion, positivity and confidence there will be no respect from your followers. You are the example, so show each and everyone person under and above you respect. Treating people with respect will take you far in life no matter the role you are in.
It is also just as important to have empathy for your employees, students or followers. Even though you are the authority figure you should make it a safe place for people to come to you with their problems or ideas. Not creating that open environment for your employees or followers to speak freely will hurt the respect and positive work environment you have been working to create.
With the confidence characteristic and being passionate and assertive, it can deter employees from wanting to approach you with ideas or issues. Make it known that these behaviors, questions or ideas are happily welcome. This, in turn, will give your followers the confidence to share their ideas openly with you.
Ability to Delegate
Think back to high school days, and were you ever made leader of a group project? Are you the type of leader that likes to have a hand in every part of the project to make sure it is done correctly? If you see that someone isn’t doing it your way do you do it yourself? This is the importance of having the ability to delegate effectively.
As a leader you have to delegate tasks that you want the others to do and allow them to get it done. That is what your team is there for, to take some of the tasks off your plate. You have to build the trust in your team and their work to successfully acquire this skill set.
Lastly, we have the characteristic, accountability. Being a leader, you should know from the beginning that you will take most of the blame if and when things go wrong. You are responsible for molding your followers and teaching them. If something doesn’t get done in the correct fashion, it is on you. If the team fails, you fail. You can no longer put the blame on any singular person because this is your team.
There are many of characteristics that go into becoming a great leader. You won’t master them all at once, but take into consideration which skill you may be lacking. Don’t try to perfect it all at one, work on it slowly and you will set yourself, and your followers, up for success.