As well as providing direction, inspiration and guidance, good leaders exhibit courage, passion, confidence, commitment and ambition. They nurture the strengths and talents of their people, and build teams committed to achieving common goals. The most effective leaders have the following traits in common:
Share Their Vision
A leader with vision has a clear idea of where they want to go, how to get there, and what success looks like. Be sure to articulate your vision clearly and passionately, ensuring your team understands how their individual efforts contribute to higher level goals. Personally working towards your vision with persistence, tenacity and enthusiasm will inspire and encourage others to do the same.
Lead by Example
As a leader, the best way to build credibility and gain the respect of others is to set the right examples. Demonstrate the behaviour that you want people to follow. If you demand a lot of your team, you should also be willing to set high standards for yourself. Aligning your words and actions will help to build trust and make your team more willing to follow your example.
A leader with integrity draws on their values to guide their decisions, behaviour and dealings with others. They have clear convictions about what is right and wrong, and are respected for being genuine, principled, ethical and consistent. They have a strong sense of character, keep their promises, and communicate openly, honestly and directly with others. Displaying integrity through your daily actions will see you rewarded with loyalty, confidence and respect from your employees.
The ability to communicate clearly, concisely and tactfully is a crucial leadership skill. Communication involves more than just listening attentively to others and responding appropriately. It also includes sharing valuable information, asking intelligent questions, soliciting input and new ideas, clarifying misunderstandings, and being clear about what you want. The best leaders also communicate to inspire and energise their staff.
Make Hard Decisions
To be an effective leader, the ability to make fast, difficult decisions with limited information is critical. When facing a tough decision, start by determining what you are trying to achieve. Consider the likely consequences of your decision and any available alternatives. Make your final decision with conviction, take responsibility for it and follow it through. Being a resolute and confident decision-maker will allow you to capitalise on opportunities and earn the respect of your team.
Frequently and consistently recognising achievement is one of the most powerful habits of inspiring leaders. For people to stretch themselves and contribute their best efforts, they need to know their work will be valued and appreciated. Find ways to celebrate the achievements of your people, even if it’s through a simple ‘well done’. As well as boosting morale, it will also strengthen their motivation to continue giving their best.
Great leaders understand that for people to give their best, they must have a sense of ownership over their work and believe that what they’re doing is meaningful. Communicate clear goals and deadlines to your team, and then give them the autonomy and authority to decide how the work gets done. Challenge them with high expectations and encourage them to be creative and show innovation.
Motivate and Inspire
The best leaders drive their team forward with passion, enthusiasm, inspiration and motivation. Invest time in the people you lead to determine their strengths, needs and priorities. As well as making them feel valuable, this will help you to understand the best way to motivate them. Continually reinforce how their efforts are making a difference, and encourage the development of their potential with meaningful goals and challenges.