8 Essential Qualities That Define Great Leadership
Kimberly FriesUnder 30i
Company leaders are facing a crisis. Nearly one-third of employees don’t trust management. In addition to this, employers now have to cater to the needs of the millennial generation. On average, after graduating from college, a millennial will change jobs four times before they are 32. Most of them also don’t feel empowered on their current jobs.
It’s clear that many leaders are failing to foster a sense of trust and loyalty in their employees. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. Managers who show great leadership qualities can inspire their teams to accomplish amazing things, according to Daniel Wang, here are eight of the most essential qualities that make a great leader.
1. Sincere enthusiasm
True enthusiasm for a business, its products, and its mission cannot be faked. Employees can recognize insincere cheerleading from a mile away. However, when leaders are sincerely enthusiastic and passionate, that’s contagious. For instance, someone who worked with Elon Musk on the early stages of his SpaceX project said that the true driver behind the success of the project was Musk’s enthusiasm for space travel.
Wang says being enthusiastic helps a leader identify existing key problems in his industry. “Any innovation starts from these problems and ends with products and services, with some of the key issues resolved,” he said.
Whether it’s giving proper credit for accomplishments, acknowledging mistakes, or putting safety and quality first, great leaders exhibit integrity at all times. They do what’s right, even if that isn’t the best thing for the current project or even the bottom line.
“When people see evidence that leaders lack integrity, that can be nearly impossible to recover from,” Wang said. “Trust lost is difficult to get back.”
3. Great communication skills
Leaders must motivate, instruct and discipline the people they are in charge of. They can accomplish none of these things if they aren’t very skilled communicators. Not only that, poor communication can lead to poor outcomes. Leaders who fail to develop these skills are often perceived as being weak and mealy-mouthed, according to Wang. It’s also important to remember that listening is an integral part of communication.
The best leaders understand that true loyalty is reciprocal. Because of this, they express that loyalty in tangible ways that benefit the member of their teams. True loyalty is ensuring that all team members have the training and resources to do their jobs. It’s standing up for team members in crisis and conflict.
“Great leaders see themselves as being in a position of service to their team members,” Wang said. “Employees who believe leadership is loyal to them are much more likely to show their own loyalty when it matters.”
A good leader isn’t simply empowered to make decisions due to their position. They are willing to take on the risk of decision making. They make these decisions and take risks knowing that if things don’t work out, they’ll need to hold themselves accountable first and foremost.
Further, bosses who aren’t decisive are often ineffective. Too much effort working on consensus building can have a negative effect. Rather than simply making a decision, many leaders allow debate to continue, and then create a piecemeal decision that satisfies no one.
6. Managerial competence
Too many organizations try to create leaders from people who are simply good at their jobs. To be clear, those who emerge as being very good workers often have important qualities. They are the ones who have a strong understanding of the company’s products and services. They understand company goals, processes, and procedures. All of these are important.
On the other hand, being good at one’s job doesn’t prove that someone possesses the other competencies they need. For example, can they inspire, motivate, mentor and direct? Wang illustrates with major league baseball. While nearly all coaches have backgrounds as major league players, the most winning players aren’t necessarily the most successful coaches.
A good leader has faith in their ability to train and develop the employees under them. Because of this, they have the willingness to empower those they lead to act autonomously. Wang says this comes from trusting that their team members are fully up to any challenges they face. When employees are empowered, they are more likely to make decisions that are in the best interest of the company and the customer as well. This is true, even if it means allowing workers to go a bit off script.
Simply put, people are more likely to follow the lead of those they like. The best leaders are well-spoken, approachable and friendly. They show sincere care for others.
“People at all levels of an organization find it easy to relate to them and follow their lead,” Wang concluded.
Every one of these qualities is absolutely essential to great leadership. Without them, leaders cannot live up to their full potential. As a result, their employees will never perform as well as they can either. Because of this, organizations must learn the best ways to identify and also to develop these necessary traits in existing and emerging leaders.