Striving to be the best leader you can be is a natural inclination. Generally, those who find themselves in leadership roles attempt to not just perform their duties adequately, but to go above and beyond. No one wants to be seen as just an alright leader by those who are on their team. People who take the time to analyze and emulate the traits that make a leader great, put in the effort required, and never become complacent with what they know are well on their way to greatness themselves. Below are four traits commonly associated with great leaders and why and how they are important.
It almost goes without saying, but great leaders display a great deal of professionalism in how they both deal with their business and their social interactions. This ability to embody professionalism in all situations engenders respect not only from those who you are leading, but from everyone you will come across day-to-day. Professionalism helps to create a positive working environment where team members feel that they fit in and play an important role.
Great leaders show integrity and set good examples for those under them, holding themselves accountable for their responsibilities and actions. They value ethical principles and adhere to the rules and regulations of their field, and if they do happen to make a mistake they own it and don’t place blame on subordinates.
In order to successfully manage their team, great leaders display compassion by being open to listening to the struggles of their team members both in and out of the workplace. Great leaders will also promote positivity within the workplace, recognizing that positivity will breed more positivity, and that no one likes working with someone who has a negative outlook. While great leaders will gain respect through their professionalism, they also give respect to others below them, treating them as they deserve and making them realize their importance.
In addition to a general professionalism, people with great leadership qualities also possess acute organizational skills. These individuals are goal-oriented and their activity system is deliberately structured, though they still possess the ability to be flexible when it comes to changing their plans to suit a situation.
When setting goals for their team, great leaders make sure that the goals are specific, measurable, and achievable. This ensures that everyone on a team is on the same page as to what needs to be done in order to realize the goal in a timely manner, and this structure helps to expedite the completion of those goals. Great leaders learn the strengths and weaknesses of their team and assign specific tasks to the people who are best suited to them.
Open communication between leaders and team members is integral to a successful workforce, and great leaders understand this fact. This open communication is especially important when leading virtual teams, as keeping everyone in the loop is imperative. Not only will they be willing to answer questions asked of them and share their knowledge with those under them, but they are also conscious of changing communications technologies and their impact in the workplace. They embrace new technology that allows for fast, clear communication among their team, which enables efficient work to be done.
Eagerness to Learn
Great leaders know that their education is never finished, and there are learning opportunities present throughout their lives. They will often pursue their education through traditional means like going back to university or, at the very least, engage in self-education through reading books geared specifically towards management.
They will also revisit skills and knowledge that they have already obtained in order to keep them sharp. Great leaders understand that though they may be skilled in a particular area, there is always room for practice and improvement. Doing so ensures that they will stay up to date on any new developments in technique regarding their field, and helps them to keep up with those who are learning the newest ways of doing things.
These individuals also value the knowledge of their peers and take opportunities that allow them to engage with experts in other fields. Even learning about new theories and processes in other fields can help to make them more efficient in their field.
Finally, great leaders tend to exhibit a great deal of charisma. An agreeable personality goes a long way in the world, both in and out of a workplace situation. While some leaders are born with an inherent charisma that gives them the boon that they need, it is also a skill that can be cultivated by anyone with the drive to do so.
Charismatic leaders exude confidence, and this inspires others to follow, even if they cannot specifically define what it is about the person that draws them in. There is a delicate line between high confidence and arrogance, and great leaders intrinsically know how to stay on the appropriate side.
Great leaders are also incredibly attentive and take the time to really listen to their team-members when they come to them with concerns or new ideas. This makes everyone more comfortable, and thus more productive and willing to openly communicate. Great leaders know how to tell a great story and put others at ease through sheer charismatic charm.
It’s true that some people have greatness thrust upon them, that they rise to the occasion and are able to naturally embody all these things that make for a great leader. However, it isn’t the luck of the draw, and nothing is holding you back from making the changes in yourself to become a great leader. No one’s life is set in stone, and if you truly aspire to be a great leader, all you have to do is pursue that dream with an unyielding passion.
Noah Rue is a journalist and a digital nomad, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t frantically updating his news feeds, Noah likes to shut off his devices, head to the beach and read detective novels from the 1930s.
Leader stock photo by fizkes/Shutterstock