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7 Essential Qualities That Define A Great Leader

Great leaders are hard to come by. That's why building the right skillset as a leader is vital to your success.

Team Meeting

Leadership is facing a crisis

Believe it or not, business leadership is facing a crisis. One that is so severe, it’s causing more and more employees to leave their current organization.

To put this crisis into context, nearly 1 in every 3 employees don’t trust their managers. On top of that, only 48% of lower-level employees fully believe in and trust their organizations.

Gone are the days of management speaking from on high and behind the curtain while employees blindly follow. That’s right, the dynamics in the workplace are changing. Because of that, it’s exposing the fact that a lot of leaders are failing to foster a sense of trust and loyalty in their employees.

Fortunately, by following the right principles and utilizing them often, you can enhance your leadership skills and become the leader every employee wants to follow.

Here are 7 vital skills that will enhance your leadership:

Loyalty

Good leaders and managers believe in their organization, their role and their team. Great leaders and managers are rooted in the beliefs and solutions of their organization and are complete advocates for those that they manage in their role. These leaders are the first to give credit to those around them. They are willing to go to bat for and take risks on those that they serve. They are the ones who are shaping the contagious culture within your organization.

At the end of the day, the sense of value your employees feel cannot be won over by nice perks like ping pong tables and catered lunches. Although these things do serve a purpose in an organization, they will not drive long-term employee loyalty. What will, is the sense of value and belief that is built over time from genuine loyalty by the leaders in your organization.

Genuine Enthusiasm

Ask any employee, fake enthusiasm for a company’s products, success and mission can be spotted from a mile away. Nothing screams terrible leader more than having disingenuous enthusiasm. On the flip side, when a leader is truly passionate and enthusiastic, it can be incredibly infectious to a team or an entire organization.

Curtis Symonds spoke highly about the energy and enthusiasm of Sheila Johnson, the Co-Founder of BET. “Above all else, Sheila leads by example through her passion,” he says. “It’s difficult to work with her, be around all of her excitement and energy, and not want to join in and get involved.”

Effective Communication

Leaders must instruct, guide, motivate and at times discipline the individuals they are in charge of. These aspects of leadership can only be accomplished through effective communication. On the flip side, if a leader has poor communication skills, it can be destructive to a teams culture and potentially lead to lackluster outcomes.

A great leader must be a master communicator, but their communication must go far beyond simple spoken and written communication. Their ability to be enthusiastic, have stellar body language, and be an expert listener are what separate them from the common average leader. This soft skill is absolutely critical to the success of any team and those who master it over time, will see immense results.

Honesty and Integrity

Nothing is more demoralizing to the culture of a team than dishonest leaders that lack integrity. Consistently dishing out empty promises with no sign of honest action is a sure recipe for disaster. Leaders, in their right mind, cannot expect those they influence to be honest if they ultimately lack the ability themselves.

The 34th President of United States, Dwight. D. Eisenhower once said, “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible…” Great leaders succeed when they stick to their core values and beliefs, but this cannot be accomplished without ethics.

Accountability

Being a great leader is definitely no cake walk. One of the biggest challenges most leaders run into is fine-tuning their ability to keep their team accountable. When done right, this will help any team or organization run like a well-oiled machine. This can be accomplished by following the approach of Arnold H Glasgow when he said, “A good leader takes little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.”

I speak from personal experience when I say nothing will ruin the dynamics of a team quicker than a leader who channels blame at a subordinate. Accountability is mastered through clear communication. When an employee understands their task and accomplishes it, make sure they receive the necessary praise. When they fall short of a task, it’s the responsibility of the leader to help them overcome their mistakes.

Delegation & Empowerment

This particular skill is incredibly important for leaders in startups. Believe it or not, you cannot complete everything yourself, even if you think you can. As an organization grows, leaders must focus on key responsibilities, visions and strategies and leave the rest to others. This can only be accomplished through clear delegation.

Your followers crave autonomy. If you want them to act and think like an owner, empower them to feel that way. Micromanaging your employees will result in a disaster. Not only will it harbor a lack of trust in you as a leader, it will also stop you from focusing on tasks and responsibilities that will lead to real growth in your team and organization.

Managerial Competence

A very critical mistake organizations often make is to try and create leaders from people who are simply good at their job or that have been with the company the longest. To be extremely clear, being a top employee or a good worker takes very important qualities and skill. These employees usually master the products and services of an organization and are extremely reliable. These are all essential skills, but they do not prove the individual has the necessary competencies to be a leader.

Leaders must be able to inspire, mentor, relate, direct and empathize with those they serve. Top employees may be the best at their job, but they will ultimately fail as a leader without leadership competencies. To ensure this picture is painted clearly, let’s parallel this particular skill to professional baseball. Most professional coaches were once players, but the most skilled or successful players aren’t necessarily the most successful coaches.

Conclusion

Becoming a great leader can take a lifetime of learning and practice. Although most great leaders have commonalities, every great leader has a unique skill set that they’ve adapted over time. It’s ultimately the responsibility of every leader to identify their unique abilities and to maximize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses. As you do this, you will positively alter your path to become the leader you’ve always wanted to be.

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