Strong and effective leadership gives companies the extra edge that helps them carve out a niche and succeed.
While just about anyone can be a leader, a select number of people go on to become great leaders. Leadership is not easy and while there is a lot of work to do, leaders are always racing against time and are desperate to be effective. Their position of power means that their employees will be confident that they can handle varied situations.
Great leaders always improve their leadership skills. They are empowering, inspiring and positive. They value their followers and, while being self-motivated, inspire their teams to perform to their potential.
Eight qualities of a great leader
1. Know your weaknesses:
While many leaders know their strengths, they can be oblivious as to their own weaknesses. Mild weaknesses may not impact a leader’s overall effectiveness, fatal flaws can have disastrous consequences. Fatal flaws are extreme weaknesses that can exert dramatic negative effects on a leader’s efficacy and career progress.
While it is not necessary for leaders to be extremely good and skilled at everything, it is not possible for them to succeed while being totally void in a specific area. Most often, these fatal flaws are typically related to ‘acts of omission’ or, in other words, the leader’s failure to take action or not doing something. Not taking responsibility for consequences, absence of strategic thinking, or failing to build strong relationships are some common ‘fatal flaws.’
Colleagues and employees may hesitate to provide honest feedback to their leaders. Encourage your employees to speak out.
You can also try an approach where you evaluate someone else’s flaws, it could be a colleague or a boss that you previously worked with. This person could be a screamer, micromanager or exhibit biases. Think of the things they did or their behaviors that led to you forming negative judgments. Evaluate if you have any of these traits or behaviors.
Identifying your weaknesses will help you formulate action plans to address them.
Set aside time every day to reflect on the recent hardships you have faced and the ones you are about to face. Find a place and set a specific time limit for this reflection exercise. It could be your favorite chair, couch or a quiet retreat at your office. Think about how the previous day went and what challenges you will need to face tomorrow. Reflect on how a leader you admire would have handled the challenges and whether you could have handled them differently.
3. Calm down:
Stress, frustration and anger are inevitable and can arise over the course of a day. Before you give in to the feelings, rate how important they are on a scale of 1 to 10. If you give your emotion rating of 9 or 10, deal with it immediately. For issues that rate below 6, you can take a physical or mental break to think about the optimal way to handle them.
4. Lead by example:
Leaders are role models. They set an example for their team to follow. From being punctual at work to your willingness to pitch in to help your team achieve collective goals, there are many ways you can emulate positive leadership traits. Your team members also see how well you communicate at different levels while analysing if you are accountable when things go wrong. Being a role model is vital when you want your team to be as professional and committed as you are.
5. Invest in continuous skill development:
Seeking continuous improvement is important to strengthen your skillset and to make sure you have what it takes to be a great, transformational leader. Leadership coaching helps build leadership skills, improve self-awareness, generate effective behaviors and maximise performance. Workshops, field trips, book clubs, structured learning programs and 360-degree assessments are some channels that can help leaders polish their leadership skills.
6. Be technically competent:
Effective leaders keep themselves updated on the latest industry-specific technology and tools. While you do not have to be a technology expert, it is important to understand the opportunities and threats posed by technological innovations and disruptions that your business may face from these innovations. Reading whitepapers, attending seminars and subscribing to expert blogs are some ways to keep abreast developments.
7. Communicate effectively:
Great leaders are great at both one-to-one and group interactions. Good leaders are able to effectively communicate and inspire the team members to work towards achieving the common vision and goals.
Good leaders are also good listeners and express sincere concern and care for their team members physically and verbally.
They keep communication lines open and are approachable.
8. Decisions at the right time:
Good leaders have a clear vision and can also make timely decisions. Although leaders are expected to make their own decisions, consulting key stakeholders and achieving a consensus can help streamline the process of decision-making. This is important given the huge impact the decisions that leaders make have on the business on the whole.
Great leaders are passionate and motivated. They can get tasks done with genuine enthusiasm and passion for the work they do. As well as offering guidance and encouraging innovation, great leaders have an optimistic, upbeat attitude that inspires their followers. Resilience and the ability to delegate responsibilities are equally important as is a focus on finding solutions, instead of fixating on problems.
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