Effective Leadership Traits
The ability to motivate and inspire comes to mind, upon reflecting on some of the world’s current leaders. Pivotal, of course, but unfortunately this alone does not qualify as effective leadership. We’ve seen many leaders capture the attention of the masses, because they have the charisma and language to do so. Their communication skills may be strong, but are they self-aware, and willing to listen and learn? Point is, there are many important traits that are required in order to be an effective leader. Below, we’ve listed 7 of these effective leadership traits, although the list could certainly go on…
Strong Communication Skills
Know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. And sometimes, it doesn’t even need to be said. Communication doesn’t refer solely to spoken or written language either. The ability to articulate your thoughts is great, but more important is the thought itself. Some leaders may be able to get their message across with a look, or touch. Whatever the mode of communication, it’s about getting the message across. Any action that sends a message can be considered a form of communication. Expectations surrounding work ethic and commitment, might be communicated in the leader’s daily activities, as well as being written and verbalised. Taking this into consideration, strong communication skills are the most important of our 7 effective leadership traits. Also to be considered as part of this point is emotional intelligence.
Understanding people and their behaviours in general is important. When it comes to a team environment, understanding your people is even more important. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What motivates them? How can you inspire their true potential? As individuals, each team member has different wants and needs. A good leader will create an environment that meets these needs, leveraging the strengths of each team member. Having a better understanding of your people will also help to build a rapport with team members, building trust, commitment and respect.
As well as understanding those around you, you also need to understand yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you need to be operating at your optimal level? This involves the ability to critically reflect on past experiences, and learning to recognise particular behaviours that you need to be wary of. Being self-aware will ultimately help you to develop your strengths, and counter your weaknesses. In doing this, a leader is able to further develop and refine their effective leadership traits. They’re also likely to experience positive development on a personal level too. If you can’t lead your own improvement, how can you be expected to help others do the same?
The Ability to Adapt
Change can be difficult, and thats why the ability to adapt to changing environments made our list of effective leadership traits. Challenging circumstances and obstacles to success are inevitable. A team’s ability to manage these changes depends greatly on leadership. A good leader will be task-focused in the face of change/challenges, rationalising the best process, rather than being overcome by emotion. The ability to face a situation rationally, calmly, and with the best intentions of the team at heart exemplifies a good leader. It also encourages the rest of the team to take a similar approach to change/challenges, which brings us to our next point; lead by example.
Lead By Example
If my leader won’t do it, why should I? Demonstrating exemplary behaviour is one of the most important effective leadership traits. If you require a certain level of commitment and work ethic from your team, then you need to show them what that looks like. The same applies to effective communication, responding to challenges, being accountable, and virtually every other leadership trait you can think of. A good leader understands and embraces the fact that they are always being watched, and that they must hold themselves to a very high standard. The way they act will set the guidelines for the rest of their team/organisation, and communicates their expectations and their values.
The Will to Listen/Learn
A good leader understands that they are imperfect. Mistakes are inevitable, and are seen as valuable tools for learning. Opinions and advice are always considered, before decisions are executed with confidence. Involving team members in the decision-making process when necessary instils trust and responsibility. It also shows that team members are valued, and their experience and expertise are a regularly exercised resource. Creating an environment that values and supports people to be their best, in turn produces the best results. With open ears and an open mind, a good leader can become a great one.
The successes and failures of a team/organisation rest in the hands of leadership. When something goes wrong, or a mistake has been made, a good leader assumes responsibility. This does not mean distributing blame equally amongst the team, but rather accepting that mistakes were made under their leadership, for which they are accountable. By accepting this responsibility, they are then able to plan for success and improve the current situation. If they choose not to accept responsibility, then they forgo control and are powerless to exact change. If the mistake is not theirs, how can they fix it, or avoid it next time?
There are many important effective leadership traits that are required to make a great leader. The list above are just some of the important qualities that need to be considered when you find yourself in a leadership position. They can be applied to any leadership position, from a corporate environment, to a sporting team, or even a family. Wherever teamwork can exist, so too can a great leader. Once again, thanks for reading, and we invite you to add to our effective leadership traits list in the comments section below.