Leadership can encompass different elements for different people….in some cases it will depend on one’s experience or expectations how they view leadership.
To begin, let’s look at a simple definition…..”The art of mobilizing others to shared aspirations.” I guess that could also mean that an inspirational leader would be followed if only to see what they will do!
Napolean called a leader a “dealer in hope.”
Roosevelt & Churchill said: “they made people believe that the sun would come up the next morning.”
According to Warren Bennis, leaders have: “The capacity to create a compelling vision and translate it into action and sustain it. Successful leaders have a vision that other people believe in and treat as their own.”
And here is one more: “a person who can persuade people to do what they don’t want to do, or do what they’re too lazy to do, and like it.”
Have considered all of those perspectives let’s now examine the important attributes that a person should have if they are to be successful and effective as a leader. In fact there are many that one could include, however I am going to offer those that have been identified by many of the most prominent leadership training organizations and individuals, those who have spent many years studying this aspect of our business lives.
Now some people seem to naturally possess some of these traits, nonetheless, great leaders know that leadership development and success is an on-going process that continues to evolve and improve with practice and education. Feedback from colleagues and the team members can be most helpful in directing one to the areas that can be improved upon or learned so that the leader can truly be great.
Here are some of the most valued traits:
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Effective Communication: Without the ability to communicate with clarity, honest, impact and influence, a leader will have a difficult time articulating their vision, aims, and goals. They will have problems coaching, instructing, or encouraging their people. If they do not practice Active Listening they will not be able to learn about their people, who they are, what they need and what their strengths are. If they do not learn those aspects of their people, it will be rather a challenge to leverage their talents, support them in their areas of need, or challenge them to reach their full potential. In addition, keeping in touch with the team in a supportive, encouraging manner lets them know that the leader is also there to coach as necessary and help when needed…..the “open door policy” will encourage them to come to the leader if they wish to discuss an issue or seek assistance.
Walk the Walk: Talking the talk is great, but if a leader really want cooperation from their team, they must model the way to demonstrate their commitment to certain expectations of behavior, respect, and diligence. If the team knows that the leader is prepared to “roll up their sleeves” and dig in to any project they will be more likely to fulfill their roles in an efficient and timely fashion as well.
Accountability: Taking responsibility for what one does, no matter who they are shows that they are reliable, able to admit mistakes and learn from them. This ability will engender respect from the team and encourage them to act accordingly. Especially if mistakes are used as opportunities to learn and the leader supports outcomes that fix the mistake and allows the team member to explore other options for future consideration….not gets “blamed” for the wrong step.
Forward Looking: A leader must be perceived as a person who looks ahead, anticipates changes necessary to keep ‘ahead of the herd’ and is open to new possibilities, even it means taking a risk from time to time. In other words, the leader needs to be viewed as a “visionary”. In addition, an open minded leader is one who is approachable with new ideas and their team is not afraid to voice an innovation as they know it will be respectfully considered….or even implemented.
Acknowledgement: A good leader recognizes the contributions of the team members in a positive, appreciative manner and encourages creativity and new approaches to accomplishing tasks. Again, this means that autonomy is encouraged and micro-managing is not part of an effective leader’s style…..rather he/she assigns the job, not the tasks. As long as the individual meets the criteria required for the project and completes their portion in the allotted time frame, how they get there is up to them….this shows trust and increases personal confidence and self-esteem, which will be a win/win for everyone.
Collaboration: By employing a collaborative approach to projects, goal development and targets, the entire team will have more buy in because they helped to formulate the process and expectations. When they are actively part of this development their ownership will likely foster higher achievement and pride in the outcomes.
Passionate: The leader who can express their passion for the work will be inspirational to the team and besides, this sort of emotion, excitement and enthusiasm is contagious. When people are excited and happy they tend to be more efficient, productive and creative which means that the team will perform at a high level and projects, goals and outcomes will all be exemplary, again a win/win for every one!
Trustworthy & Competent: A leader needs to earn the trust of the team and the team needs to trust each other. A commitment to that outcome must be demonstrated by the leader for it to ‘catch on’ in the rest of the team. That trust can be appreciated when the competence and intelligence of the leader is obvious by what their own outcomes are and how they deal with the challenges, risks, and results of the organization as a whole.[/message][su_spacer]
If all these abilities are developed and practiced regularly, the leader will be sure to secure a successful long lasting business that others will wish to emulate and reproduce.
Last but not least…..have some fun! Life is too short not to enjoy what we do, as we generally spend more time at work during our life time than with our family and friends, make sure you love what you do!