The Essential Qualities of a Great Leader
Being Self Aware
Great leaders have self-awareness. They understand how their day-to-day actions and even how they carry themselves, speak and interact with others can have an impact on those around them. They proactively look for feedback on their leadership and try to see themselves the way others do. This kind of self-reflection isn’t easy for everyone, but it’s the hallmark of a good leader. Perception isn’t always reality but it certainly has a strong influence on outcomes.
An Ability to Connect With Others and Work Collaboratively
Today, rather than working in a strict hierarchy, many organizations have a more hybrid or flat form of leadership. Organizations are interconnected, and it’s important for leaders to be able to connect and collaborate across the organization so that the team can succeed. Today’s teams are often cross-functional, and building strong relationships helps organizations work more effectively and efficiently. The diversity created by this kind of collaboration can often help organizations perform better than they otherwise would have.
There is a leadership style known as “collaborative leadership” and the leaders that embrace this style place the team’s needs above their own. They foster a cooperative environment within their own team and even between teams. The most successful collaborative leaders know how important it is to involve team members in decision-making and to give credit to the people who deserve it.
Good leaders have strong, passionate transformative visions and are able to articulate those visions clearly. This helps the team members understand not just what they need to do, but also why it’s important. Great leaders inspire others to execute their visions and can maintain the momentum required to make things happen. This leadership approach works best when it’s clear the leader truly believes what they’re saying. Poor communicators and those who aren’t really invested in the outcome of the project are unlikely to be able to inspire action.
Decisive But Open-Minded
Leaders can inspire loyalty by being open-minded and being willing to listen to feedback from their team members. However, it’s important for them to also be decisive and inspire confidence that the team is in good hands. Some leaders struggle to strike the right balance between these two important qualities.
Being open-minded means asking questions and being willing to listen to what people have to say. Everyone will have their own perspective on a situation and a good listener will strive to understand what someone has to say and make team members feel comfortable presenting their ideas without the threat of punishment or ridicule.
The challenge leaders face is taking the best ideas and discarding the rest, so the team feels that the leadership they have is strong, well-informed, and decisive. If a leader simply does whatever their subordinates suggest without thinking critically, the team will feel rudderless and may waste time changing direction based on feedback from multiple different people. This balancing act can be difficult to strike. You may want to take a look at team coaching growth to get more of an idea of how to grow your team.
The Ability To Respond to Changing Circumstances
Most people can tell others what to do if they’re given a clear plan. What sets true leaders apart from managers is the ability to make decisions during rapidly changing circumstances, communicate clearly, and be calm when unexpected things happen. Good leaders are able to guide teams and individuals during challenging times, improvising when necessary and accepting that things won’t always go according to plan. When a difficult situation arises, a good leader will do whatever it takes to get the best out of their team, maintain morale, and keep the project on track.