When analysing management styles, all too often commentary is centred around what makes for a bad leader, and not much time and effort is dedicated towards what makes a good one.
It’s understandable, because it is the stressful times that do stick out the most.
But with criticism, there needs to be praise for those in business doing things right. At the front of every successful company there is a leader that is very good at what they do..
They got where they did by displaying certain qualities that helped them stand out from the crop.
So, in this article I thought we’d explore the top ten characteristics that make an effective leader.
But first, let’s discuss why good leadership is so crucial to a business.
The importance of leadership
Leadership goes behind hitting deadlines, KPIs, and ensuring things remain on budget.
First and foremost, a leader needs to inspire and motivate a team to perform.
If a leader is ineffective at this it has a proven impact on employee morale. Indeed, research from Gallup shows 24 percent of employees will be actively disengaged due to poor management.
This in turn leads to loss of productivity and high turnover rates; all of which ultimately impact profitability.
On the flip side of that coin the same research also found an engaged team shows;
- 24 percent to 59 per cent less turnover
- 10 percent higher customer ratings
- 21 percent greater profitability
- 17 percent higher productivity
- 28 percent less shrinkage
- 70 percent fewer safety incidents
- 41 percent less absenteeism
So, how do you engage an entire team you ask?
I promise it is easier than it sounds. It all comes down to displaying the following characteristics as a leader.
Characteristics of a good leader
For a leader to foster trust and inspire change they need to walk a fine line of being open and empathetic, while being able to delegate effectively.
It can be a tight-rope balancing act, but it’s easy to achieve if a leader displays the following traits;
Research from the Centre of Creative Leadership found integrity is the most important character strength for the performance of top-level executives.
But what is actually meant by integrity?
This trait refers to the ability of being honest, trustworthy and reliable. It means having morals and not being afraid to stick by principles, to do the right thing.
Having humility and being aware of your strengths and limitations will only make you a better leader.
This can be a challenging inward-focusing trait to develop, but it will only strengthen management skills.
How so, you ask?
Being self-aware will ultimately help someone recognise their reactions ahead of time. This in turn will help them manage their emotions, and put them in a better position to help them react to challenges, change and potential conflict.
Leadership and communication skills go hand-in-hand. But the two terms are often mentioned side-by-side so much, the word communication, ironically, loses a bit of meaning.
To be clear, communication skills go beyond telling people what to do, it also comes down to listening, which is essential, and how available you are to communicate with.
That brings us to our next point…
A good leader should be clear when it comes to decision-making, and be unafraid of the fact this ability often comes with taking a risk.
Indecisive bosses are just ineffective and this has an adverse impact on communication and credibility.
- Learning Agility
Learning Agility means you are able to adapt when you come across something you don’t know how to do. It’s a combination of skills that allow an individual to learn, unlearn, and adapt quickly to changing stimuli.
Entrepreneurs are great examples of leaders who display this trait as they typically challenge and transform the way we see everyday aspects of life, like transportation or grocery runs.
A good leader needs to know how to delegate tasks to employees. I know it can be tempting to get into the mindset of “I can just do this faster”, but in the long run you will only shoot yourself in the foot.
Not only are you taking too much responsibility on your shoulders, you’re also not giving your employees room to grown, and learn.
The best leaders know how to thank employees for a job well done. This also motivates employees to do a good job and creates trust in the business.
This all comes down to how a leader tackles conflict. Should a dispute arise between employees at work, a leader must be unafraid of stepping in and resolving it, so it doesn’t impact the team on a wider level.
It can be tempting to leave people to work out their own issues, but this can fester – so it’s always best to offer to help mediate should these instances be brought to your attention.
Having a culture of respect is essential if a business wants to attract, retain, and make use of the contributions of their whole team.
Respect as a leader comes down to treating your employees like the skilled people that they are, by listening and showing interest in the perspective of others – no matter where they sit in the hierarchy.
Empathy is often quoted as being one of the most crucial traits a good leader has, and its importance can’t be understated.
This is because empathy drives business results.
A study by catalyst found 76 per cent of employees who worked with empathetic leaders said they were more engaged. But that’s not all, 61 per cent said they’re more likely to be innovative under these leaders.
Those numbers speak for themselves if you ask me!
I hope you have found this blog post useful.
Let us know what else you feel makes a great leader!
If you’d like to read more, please check out my previous article, “Power of Vulnerability in Leadership”.