Every business starts with a business idea. We all know it.
However, not every business idea out there gets properly executed and eventually transforms into a sustainable business. When not executed in the right manner even the best of business ideas is likely to be doomed to failure.
One of the most significant factors that play a critical role in the success of any business and effective implementation of any business idea is the set of leadership qualities of its key people.
Being led by a true leader is an invaluable asset for any business and often is the exact area where the difference between success and failure lies.
But who is the true leader?
It is, in fact, challenging to identify the leader in today’s world where this term has already been excessively overused.
Thankfully there are certain qualities that help a true leader to stand out from the crowd.
Below we discuss 10 most prominent ones:
Perhaps everything related to business starts with the commitment.
If you expect someone to work hard for you then the very first thing you should probably do is to work hard yourself and for yourself. Only after this, you can expect hard work from someone else.
Seeing their leader putting in the real hard work and demonstrating genuine commitment is one of the greatest motivations for any team.
However, this motivator is often overlooked as this is not something easy to do. Much easier it is to sit in your office and try to be a leader by hosting meetings and giving commands from the comfort of your chair. The only issue with this is that it does not always work and does not really motivate your people.
On contrary, commitment (especially when demonstrated) works and motivates without a hitch.
Of course, you can still be committed to your work and stay productive without leaving your office, but it’s good when your team sees how committed you are.
Therefore, being truly committed and demonstrating it is one of the essential qualities of a leader. To lead you need to demonstrate that you deserve to be followed.
You need to demonstrate that you believe in yourself so others can believe in you too.
It is quite interesting though that the abovementioned is true not only about the work-related stuff. It is also true when it comes to off-work activities.
If you promised something to your team– do it.
Be it a promise to go out with the team on the weekend or organise Secret Santa for Christmas – it does not really matter. What matters is that you really do things.
As a leader, you must make sure that you stay committed to what you have promised your staff.
When your people start to see that you are committed to the work and your promises they respect, trust and like you more. And this helps you in two ways: it will raise your own efficiency and the efficiency of your team inevitably leading to better results for your business.
Leader’s commitment positively affects the employee engagement levels and engaged employees help to achieve better key business outcomes according to Gallup study:
Honesty is something that anything (not only business) that is believed to be important and worthwhile should be based around.
So, is your company.
Honesty is the best foundation for your business and your relationships with the people working for you. As a leader, it is your job and responsibility to carry this utterly important value to everyone involved – your employees, clients, partners, suppliers and everyone else.
Carrying honesty as a value positively affects your image as a leader. It helps you to be a better leader. It’s one of those cornerstone concepts on which the idea of leadership is actually based on. If you lack honesty you will have a hard time becoming a real leader for your team.
So, make sure you communicate the right values to your people – values that help them to find the most ethical ways of working and living. Honesty will help you to make your work environment a friendly, nice and helpful workplace.
Whatever you want your team to do or believe in (be it commitment or honesty), things and values must be accurately communicated to your people in order for them to understand those things in full and in the right way.
So, precise articulation skills and strong communication abilities are absolutely important for every leader.
However, it is also important to note that communication is not limited to the verbal channel only.
Non-verbal communication can play an important role and help to provide the necessary signals.
Generally, there are two different types of communication.
One is purely work-related. It’s when you communicate strictly work-related things to your team and your primary task is to make sure that your team understands your instructions as accurately as possible. If you fail to do so you and your team might start working in different directions and not towards the common goal. And as you probably guessed, this will make achieving the common goal hard.
In contrast, the accurate communication helps you to move in the same direction with your team – it’s when your team perfectly understands what you are trying to convey them, and all of your collective efforts are uniformly directed towards the common business goals. This is an absolutely beautiful thing for any company.
And the other type of communication is when you communicate things that are not really related to work like confidence, motivation, tone, and morale.
Both two types of communication mentioned above although different are equally important.
Below is the Conceptual Model for Effective Leadership Communication provided by McGill University in Montreal that shows what effective communication and leadership can do for your business when put together:
Communication also needs to be accessible.
If your workers want to talk to you this should be easy for them to do. There should be no barriers in communication with the leader on any topic including work-related issues and personal or simply non-work-related stuff.
You can arrange this through the open-door policy for instance or regular meetings with your team where everybody can easily talk to you.
Accessible and timed communication is particularly important in stressful cases and when things simply go wrong. When this happens your role as a leader increases even more in importance as you are responsible for keeping up the motivation and productivity levels of your team high.
The sense of humour is very helpful in these cases.
Approaching the mistakes and failures with humour makes it so much easier to recover from them. Good sense of humour helps to maintain and improve productivity and handle stressful situations with ease.
It is also a beautiful thing when your team can easily talk to you about their personal lives like their vacations, hobbies, interests, achievements etc. This positively influences your relationships with people you manage (lead) and create more trust between you and them.
We are all humans and apart from work we also need some play and fun. If someone says that he does not like these things he is not being 100% honest.
So, as this is a matter of fact it is a good idea to benefit from it also for work purposes. For example, supporting regular fun activities or creating a pet-friendly workplace can be a very good way of being a good leader who truly cares about his/her people.
A true leader must be confident. A leader is a person that others want to be like.
During the day-to-day business operations, there are usually lots of ups and downs. And the quality of a true leader is to keep and spread his confidence during all times – good and bad. If you manage to remain confident and focus on the bigger picture of your business during tough times this will reflect on your people too.
Generally, anything you want and try to convey as a leader needs at least some portion of confidence to work. When you try to communicate or show something it is always better accepted when done in a confident manner.
Your main goal as a leader should be making sure that everyone in your team is happy and productive. Confidence is the necessary component for making this happen.
- Positive Attitude
Along with the confidence goes the positive attitude. As we’ve already mentioned above, remember that everyone in your office is a human in the end.
Your goal is to achieve the continued success of your company. For this, you need to keep the energy and productivity levels of your people high for which the right balance between serious stuff and some playfulness is needed.
As a leader, you must ensure that the mood in your office is positive at all times in order to keep your people happy and move your company forward.
If your people feel positive and happy, they are likely to deliver the very best results they can with minimum effort and involvement from your side.
Often overlooked, delegation is one of the most important factors in any organisation and one of the most valuable qualities of any manager and leader. It might look quite easy from the distance but there are many pitfalls (often of psychological nature) in delegating. It is the quality of real leaders only to delegate correctly. Trusting your people with your idea or initiative is a sign of power and not the weakness.
As your work grows it will inevitably reach the point when it needs to be delegated. No matter how far you stretch yourself and your time delegating the work will appear to be the best option at a certain moment. You will see that the more you stretch yourself and your time the more you lose in quality and overall input.
Not delegating costs you the productivity. So, leaders always delegate when it is needed and do this in the right manner.
The most important factor in delegation is the identification of strengths of your people and capitalizing on them. People usually do the things they enjoy the best.
Therefore, when delegating always try to find out what your team enjoys doing most. If done right, this will empower your employees and let them know that you trust and believe in them.
At the same time, the right delegating will help you to free up your time and will let you focus on the bigger picture and most important parts of your business. The parts that should not be delegated and must be done by you.
Effective delegation will have a tremendous impact on the productivity of your company.
Although many people think that the creativity is an innate talent it is actually believed (according to Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience) that it’s in fact not 100% genes and instead the combination of factors.
Thus, as a leader, you need to learn to be more creative and think outside the box.
Sometimes you will be forced to make quick decisions. It’s when you do not have enough time to evaluate all the factors and when your people look for immediate guidance from you.
This is the time when your creativity will come to your help. Every leader must have this useful tool in his/her arsenal.
Sometimes, you face the dilemma of two decisions where both of them are clearly bad. Your task, in this case, is to choose the best one between two bad options.
Creativity is the exact thing that helps in this kind of cases. It might even help you to discover the third option – the good one and literally from nowhere. That’s exactly what is called “outside the box thinking”.
Unlike creativity, intuition is something that is more likely to be a purely innate thing. However, it can also be tied to the volume of experiences you had. More experiences will usually mean better intuition.
When creativity does not help your intuition usually does. The intuition of leader it’s his/her secret weapon and reliable plan B.
Things that are not solved by critical thinking (sometimes due to the time shortage or other similar factors) are often solved by simply the gut feeling.
Sometimes unexpected stuff happens, and you find yourself in a completely new scenario where your people look to you for decisions and overall guidance. When this happens you as a leader refer to your gut instinct.
Thus, you need to learn to trust yourself in order to make your team trust you when it is most needed.
Leaders are expected to inspire. Inspire and lead.
When you inspire people, it is easier to lead them. More than that if you inspire people sometimes you even do not need to think about leading them. You just go your own way and they will follow you.
This is the behaviour of a natural leader.
Bonus systems, equity ownership, and other instruments are also there to help you. These instruments can help you to make your people believe that you all go towards the common goal which will eventually benefit everyone.
Catching the right moment when the energy is low, morale is down, and productivity is lost to make a break and re-inspire everyone in the team is a very useful leader quality.
Everything needs some refresh over the time. The same applies to inspiration.
In order for the inspiration to work properly, you need to refresh it on a regular basis. You need to take breaks and recognize peoples’ achievements, input, dedication, and progress to inspire them further on.
People are not all created equal.
They greatly differ in their life approach, life philosophy, work approach, beliefs, values, motivation triggers and hundreds of other things.
A true leader will find that unique approach to each and every team member in his team in order to get the maximum input and utmost productivity.
Some people like pressure others do not, some people like being strictly guided while others want to be on their own while they are being kept accountable for the end result only.
It is not easy to find the individual and customized approach to everyone working for you. But the task of the true leader and one of the best of his/her qualities is to find a way to achieve this no matter what.
Not all the qualities listed above are possible to gain. Some of them like intuition are innate, others are partly genetic, and the rest can be learned.
However, the key is not the number of leadership qualities you have. The key is how you use what you have got and how you learn and develop the others. The key is the right combination and proper leverage of leadership qualities and skills, and not their quantity.
We listed the top 10 qualities of leaders above, however, this does not mean that every leader out there has them all.
Accordingly, even if you lack some of the qualities listed above this does not mean that you cannot work and improve your overall leader profile. In the end, the persistence and “can do” mentality are also among the qualities that make leaders stand out.