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10 basic leadership qualities
Develop well-rounded leadership qualities that empower your team
All leaders are different, and finding out what kind of leader you are can help you take your skills to the next level. Whether you’re responsible for leading a Fortune 500 company or striving to view yourself as a leader as you work to attain your personal goals, developing effective leadership qualities is absolutely essential to your success. Honing excellent leadership traits helps you surmount obstacles, take risks and find ways to live joyfully and thrive even during the most challenging times.
Many people believe that if they aren’t displaying the stereotypical leadership traits like being outspoken, they’ll never possess excellent leadership qualities. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t hold yourself back thinking that the potential for leadership is something you have or don’t. Limiting beliefs of this nature keep you from your full potential and exist only in your head. When you focus on and visualize what you want to be rather than what holds you back, you harness the power of acquiring and utilizing excellent leadership attributes.
What are leadership qualities?
There are different types of leaders. Accepting that your leadership style is unique to your set of skills, and then working to cultivate your leadership qualities, is the best way to become the leader you need to be to reach massive success. But what are the qualities of a good leader? To answer this question, first consider what defines leadership. A dictionary definition of leadership includes being in a position of governance or control over people or an organization. A real-life leadership definition digs deeper into the nuances of what it means to be in charge. When you’re running a business, you’re leading people, and that means you must develop people skills in addition to business know-how. To be an effective leader, you must be able to consistently interact with your staff, colleagues and clients to achieve your goals. Great leaders don’t force collaboration – they invite it. As Apple’s Steve Jobs famously said, leadership is about inspiring people to accomplish what they thought they couldn’t do, whereas management is about persuading people to do what they never wanted to do.
Vital leadership traits
What are the qualities of a good leader? Leadership isn’t something people are born with – it’s a skill that can be cultivated over time. When you’re able to develop strong leadership traits, you’re positioned to inspire your entire team. Here are eight basic leadership qualities that everyone can refine in order to be a more productive leader:
True leaders are confident and know they can think – and act – outside the box to take their companies to the next level. They know that leadership qualities like openness, emotional agility and resourcefulness are often more important leadership traits than being able to make a sale or wow a group of investors.
How does one display the confidence necessary to be a good leader? More than half of human communication comes from nonverbal cues. Know how to set the right tone as a leader by letting your confidence show. Confident leaders win over and inspire others because everyone else wants to embody confidence, too. Practice strong non-verbal communication by standing tall, making eye contact and learning to control your fidgeting. When you appear confident – even if you don’t actually feel confident – others will be more likely to follow your lead and believe in your authority.
Have you learned how to really focus in on what you want? Those who embody strong leadership qualities keep their eye on the prize. They are very organized and plan well ahead while still remaining spontaneous enough to handle unexpected challenges. Like a grandmaster in a chess game, a good leader thinks out each strategy and understands how each of his or her actions will affect the rest of any given scenario.
Distractions can be one of your biggest business saboteurs, but those who display strong leadership traits don’t let them intrude. This is one of the key leadership strengths because, as Tony always says, where focus goes, energy flows. Limit distractions by creating an environment that is conducive to focus. For example, your office can have an open door policy between certain hours so your team can freely communicate, but make it known that you will not be as available during your “focus times.” This helps you get deeper into your work without having to deal with the many moving parts of your business.
Keep your endgame in sight by cultivating your ability to focus. Having a clear purpose allows you to not only achieve your goals, but to foster leadership among your staff as well.
Many people believe that successful business and political leaders are inherently dishonest, but great leaders treat others just as they expect to be treated – in an honest fashion. Being honest is not only one of the leadership traits that will allow you to lead your business with integrity, but it’s the only real way to make strong connections with others. Whether you’re trying to lead your business or your family, the truth is that every single person you interact with looks to your own honesty and code of ethics to set his or her own bar. Make sure each member of your team or household knows what your culture and core expectations are, and show them how much you value honesty in your everyday interactions with others through setting a valuable example. Don’t sugarcoat information, but find a way to deliver honest comments and feedback in a direct and compassionate manner.
One of the leadership qualities of truly great leaders is the sense of abundant positivity that energizes everyone around them. It’s not that they never have moments of frustration or disappointment, but that they’re able to take a positive approach to tackle challenging issues. Inspiring leaders know how to turn setbacks into successes and make a point to display optimistic leadership traits on a daily basis. Choose empowering beliefs that will propel you forward, not negative thought patterns that will weigh you down. Seeing challenges as opportunities rather than obstacles is one of the most important leadership qualities you can display to your teammates. When you practice positive thinking, it becomes your powerful cognitive habit and allows you to reassure and elevate those around you.
Every single person in a leadership role of any kind sometimes has to make difficult decisions. How you handle these decisions is one of the most important leadership qualities. The ability to be decisive can mean the difference between getting through a tough time or crisis and folding under pressure. Making these kinds of calls doesn’t always mean you will be well-loved, but when you use good judgment to make decisions, it will earn you the respect of others. Even if you make a wrong decision and need to correct it, showing decisiveness during tough times is a better leadership quality than waiting around for something to happen or letting others make the decision for you. An effective leader is one who makes the decision that is right, not the decision that is easy.
6. Ability to inspire
We all bring natural gifts to our careers. Discovering what your natural leadership traits are is an excellent way to inspire others to also find their own strengths. One of the secrets to wild success is honing your leadership vision and communicating it to others. Inspiration is what pushes people to plow through difficult times – and to work on achieving their goals even when times are undemanding. You define yourself with your identity, or in business, your brand. Refocus and sharpen your identity often so you will inspire those on your team.
7. Effective communication
Knowing your team’s – and your own – communication styles is one of the leadership qualities that will strengthen your business the most. Great leaders don’t just communicate information to their team – they also know how to communicate goals and their vision to get their team excited.
You can’t underestimate the power of words. The best leaders know that words transform emotions and lead to breakthroughs. Like many important leadership qualities, being an effective communicator is often more about what you don’t do than what you do. Constructive communication often means closing your mouth and opening your ears. Deep listening and asking thoughtful questions shows that you care about your employees’ contributions.
As a leader, you’re going to make mistakes. While handling them with positivity and a growth mindset is one of the key leadership qualities you must possess, you must also take responsibility for those mistakes. Blaming others, justifying your actions or pretending like mistakes never happened erodes trust among your team and will discourage them from being accountable for their own mistakes. Great leaders take more than their share of blame and less than their share of credit, which creates an organizational culture of trust and humility. When you’re accountable, you can also hold your team accountable for their actions, ultimately creating a sense of responsibility that will keep them continually striving for their personal – and your business’ – goals.
Powerful leaders have a clear sense of purpose and are able to take their teams in the right direction. Additionally, as they lead their group, they utilize strong leadership qualities to create a supportive sense of community for all who are involved. Becoming an empowering leader is about not only creating something that’s better for the group, but encouraging those around you to embrace their strong leadership traits as well.
What are the qualities of a good leader – and is empathy one of them? According to the U.S. Army, it is. As Forbes reports, the Army Field Manual on Leadership Development states emphatically and repeatedly that empathy is essential for strong leadership. As surprising as this may seem, the logic is straightforward. When you’re trying to reach someone, having empathy allows you to discern whether you’ve gotten your message across. When you’re able to see another person’s perspective, you’re able to predict the effect your words and actions will have on them. Without empathy, the reverse happens and you risk alienating the very people you’re attempting to create connections with, whether they’re your customers, employees, colleagues or competitors. Cultivating empathy is the precursor to almost every other “soft skill” required for leadership, from self-awareness to critical thinking.
Humility is one of the oft-misunderstood leadership qualities that’s actually critical for heading any type of team. As the Huffington Post reports, humility is one of the most important leadership traits, but it doesn’t mean being a doormat. Humility shapes your character so that you’re able to embrace your own weaknesses without losing confidence. From this place of self-respect, you’re receptive to others’ feedback, which opens you up to new ideas and solutions. Humility also softens you to genuine connections with other people, since humility makes you approachable. You’re able to interact with your team, customers and colleagues from a place of shared humanity, which breaks down communication barriers.
What are the qualities of a good leader, and how can you develop them? Getting to know yourself is your first step. Learn which of the six human needs drives you with Tony Robbins’ quick assessment. From there, you’re on your way to developing the leadership traits that will take your business – and your life – to the next level.