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Attributes of a great leader

Anyone can be a manager, but becoming a leader is a whole other ballgame, and even more challenging is to be an inspiring leader who can motivate and empower the people, the team whom they lead.

Why effective attributes of a great leader can be rewarding

The best of the best leaders do get caught in difficult situations, face hardships and encounter conflicts, but they overcome all obstacles that come their way… Simply because they are determined to achieve their goals and succeed.

It doesn’t matter if its about boosting a team’s productivity levels, or even ensuring that their business becomes the leading firm or organization in the industry.

The best leaders are known for finding a way out even when all doors are closed, for accomplishing the impossible, for succeeding and emerging at the top, no matter what.

The problem: millennials, or the corporations?

Generally, business leaders are in a crisis these days. According to studies, 33% of employees have no trust in management and for the management, millennials are a problem.  Millennials will likely switch jobs four times until their early 30s. Plus, whatever job they may be involved in, they usually aren’t empowered.

So where exactly do the problems lie?

The employers or the employees? Great leadership – this is probably the biggest challenge and the root cause of issues that many a businesses face.

Current leaders fail to build trust, and hence, employees aren’t loyal.

If these businesses can work on leadership skills, ensuring that the managers themselves are headed towards the right path with very clear goals and a nearly ideal set of traits, others will automatically follow their lead.  But before this can be done, businesses must know essential attributes of a great leader.

So what is it that makes the best business leaders achieve whatever they set out to achieve?

How do they always maintain a positive attitude? How do they stay calm even when the pressure is boiling?

The best leaders succeed because they have the right traits. They have all the qualities that it takes to ace and win the game.

It is because of these very qualities that their team members and employees respect them, gain inspiration from them and regard them as their mentor. We’ll go through some essential attributes of a great leader one by one, review common leadership styles and then talk about how you can develop leadership traits.

Clarity

A good leader is always clear on what their goals are, and already have a plan or strategy up their sleeves that can help them succeed. They are always aware of their vision, and absolutely sure about what they want to achieve.

This clarity also ensures that the team is aware of the objective; what is expected of them and how they are contributing to the bigger picture. Accordingly, they can decide if they support the vision of that leader or not.

Generally, few people are on point about what they want to achieve, and even fewer know how to get there. So most of the people do tend to gravitate or look up to leaders who have a clear vision in mind, and that is exactly what makes them great.

Decisiveness

Since great leaders are completely sure of what they want, and don’t back out, the same is reflected in all the decisions they make. They don’t change their minds or eat on their words unless absolutely necessary.  This decisive nature shows their commitment, which is an essential quality of an ideal leader.

Also, good leaders don’t only make decisions, simply because they are in a position of power. They also understand the risks involved and are ready to take on the responsibility of any consequences that may arise, whether positive or negative, because of their decision.

Good leaders are aware that if things don’t work out or happen as expected, they will be held accountable and not the team.

But decision making shouldn’t be done individually. The best leaders sit down with their team, take feedback from everyone and then decide the best solution for all involved.

Managerial Competence

Many organizations make the mistake of assigning leadership to people who perform well and are good at a certain task or job. Obviously, people of this sort often have desirable skills, understand the product thoroughly and are well aware of a company’s goals, processes and procedures. Indeed, all of this is important, but effective leadership goes deeper than this.

Being poor or even being excellent at something is no guarantee that the same person can also be an excellent leader. The best leaders possess managerial competence, while possesing attributes like being able to inspire, motivate and instruct others.

Courage

Boldness is a trait that someone can either be blessed with or can develop as an added quality. Some people don’t get pressurized by fear, whereas others do become a bit shaky or unsure with their anxiety levels building up, when things get a little out of hand.

Still, even these people can practice mediation and utilize other methodologies to become bolder.

Even if they are nervous or scared, they can pretend not to be and prevent their feelings from showing on their face. This is another essential trait of a great leader.

Passion

Seeing someone go out of their way to achieve something inspires others. When leaders are passionate and excited, their team looks up to them in awe, and want to be guided by them. They start seeing a mentor in the leader and become more eager to perform.

Humility

Humbleness is a virtue that only the greatest of the world possess.

After achieving everything that you wanted and being at the top, it can become a bit hard to show modesty, but great leaders still do it. This is exactly what makes them lovable.

The best business leaders understand then help others out, show love, appreciate often, admit their mistakes and accept criticism. They are always grateful and humble, which makes them more inspiring.

Enthusiasm

True enthusiasm is a trait that cannot be faked. Even inexperienced employees can understand the difference between sincerity and insincerity. Also figuring out leaders that actually care for and show an interest in their progress, compared to managers who are only faking it.

A leader mustn’t only give importance to individual goals or desires of the members on their team, but also be able to share their passion and enthusiasm with them. Because this enthusiasm is contagious after all, and will ensure that their team takes direction from them – their leader – heeding their advice.

Also, when leaders are enthusiastic, they can identify problems more easily, coming up with more creative, effective and quick solutions.

Integrity

The best business leaders always display integrity whether it’s accrediting people for their efforts, realizing then admitting their mistakes and putting the safety of their employees over everything else.

They always do the right thing and behave ethically, even if it may not be the best thing to do in a particular instance.

Contrary to this, a leader who doesn’t show any integrity loses respect, credibility and the trust that their team would have had in them otherwise.

Great Communication Skills

As already mentioned, enthusiasm and motivation are attributes of a great leader. Moreover, leaders always have to instruct, delegate and discipline their team.

However, a leader can accomplish none of these things if their communication skills are poor.

The best leaders are excellent communicators – excellent communication leads to positive and successful outcomes, whereas poor communication skills results in negative consequences.

Leaders who don’t develop communication skills are often seen as weak, which makes them less inspiring. Also, remember that communication doesn’t only involve talking and convincing, it’s also about listening.

Loyalty

True loyalty goes both ways, which is something that great leaders understand. This is why, leaders show their loyalty through tangible and beneficial ways.

True loyalty means ascertaining that every member on the team has received the necessary training and is equipped with the resources required to do their job.

True loyalty also involves standing up for, backing and supporting the team through tough times, dealing with them in a effective manner when conflicts arise. Finally, true loyalty is also about sharing feedback, appreciating and rewarding.

The best leaders consider themselves to be in a position at which they can provide service to their team members and ensure their needs are also being fulfilled. When employees realize that the leaders themselves are loyal, they will display loyalty.

Empowerment

A good leader is confident in their ability to train, develop and direct other employees. They can empower the people that they lead, which originates from being able to trust their team and having confidence that team would be up for any challenges that may come their way. Empowered employees are motivated, productive and act in the best interest of the company and customers.

Charisma

Simply put, any individual or employee is more likely to take instruction from and follow someone they like. The best leaders can speak well, communicate effectively, are easily approachable and friendly. They are sincere, care for and are concerned about other people’s progress.

Vision

The best leaders have a well-defined and realistic vision. In their mind, is the future version of themselves and their company, and a clearly crafted path that leads them to it. Leaders plan out a complete strategy, process it, and share it with their team.

This is one of the attributes of a great leader that separates them from the manager. Thus, these leaders become transformational from the traditionally transactional managers.

Simply put, managers only focus on getting the job done, but leaders tap into an employee’s potential, consider their interest and empower them to complete the task and the goal at hand.

Strategic Planning

The very best leaders are a pro at strategic planning, one of the most essential attributes of a great leader. Leaders can foresee the future and anticipate where the trends and market is heading in general. This gives them a competitive edge, which helps their companies increase market share.

Focus

A leader doesn’t focus on their self interests, but on the needs of the company they work for. They figure out the best possible step or action in a certain situation, and accordingly proceed ahead in a proactive manner.

The best of leaders work on the strengths of their team, and of the company as a whole, using that as an advantage.

Effective leaders are able to call the shots, ensure that everyone involved is focused and performing efficiently.  The attributes of a great leader are extensive, because of the amount of strength and empowerment they need to provide to their team members within the organization.

Cooperation

Leaders have the ability to pull the entire team together and enable them to collaborate.

A close-knit team with strong relationships is essential for success, and it’s something that the best of leaders take care of.

Leaders also identify the 20% team members who are responsible for 80% of the outcomes, work on them even more, honing their skills and preparing them for success.

Leadership Styles

The style of best leaders can be divided into several types that compose the attributes of a great leader, which are based on your personality and the response of your team when you try to direct them.

Affiliative

Affiliative leaders emphasize team work, enable a collaborative environment and resolve conflicts effectively. This leadership style is preferred when communication, trust and team morale have to be improved.

Affiliative leaders then help the team see how their performance contributes and what makes them important.

Autocratic

Autocratic leaders are always quick, efficient and responsible. They hold themselves accountable for outcomes, regardless of how the team is doing. But then they also prefer making decisions on their own without valuing the opinions of their team. Such a leadership style can be effective when stress levels are high and deadlines are close by.

Charismatic

Charismatic leaders are charming and ambitious, having a captivating personality that compels everyone to follow their direction. Leaders of these sorts have an amazing ability to persuade and work for the greater good.

Coaching

Coaching is an effective leadership style, which when adopted encourages, motivates and inspires every member on the team. These leaders take charge, assign everyone a specific role and ensure work gets done.

They also take input from the team who know exactly what is expected of them. This leadership style is preferable if you want results being improved or greater performance levels have to be achieved.

Developing attributes of a great leader

Some people are born natural leaders, but even if that isn’t the case, the above skills can still be developed and perfected after continuous practice.  Let’s review some of the most effective ways of doing so.

Practicing disciple

A good leader is disciplined in their personal and professional lives. The more disciplined you are, the more effective a leader will you be perceived as.

So how exactly can you demonstrate discipline?

Meet deadlines, keep key appointments, be on time, and ensure that meetings don’t run over the scheduled times.

Be as organized as you can be, and develop good habits. Even simple things like waking up early and exercising daily can keep you a long way ahead. After all, both these ensure physical and mental health, which are essential for delivering your very best.

Take on challenging projects

Acquiring attributes of a great leader can be challenging. Don’t shy away from challenges. Instead tackle them, even if you fail to resolve the issue the first time around.

Use your mistakes and experiences as a learning opportunity. This doesn’t mean that you overburden yourself and take more than you can handle – all it means is that you should step out of your comfort zone and willingly learn new things.

Learn to follow

A great leader will always hand over control over to another person when required.

They don’t feel threatened if someone questions their thinking, disagrees with their opinions or wants to try out their own ideas.

So keep an open mind, give credit when due and appreciate your team whenever required. Remember, only when you respect and value your team will they gain inspiration from you, following your every move.

Developing awareness

Seeing the bigger picture and identifying potential problems before they occur is a key leadership trait.  This skill is particularly useful when you have to handle a complex project with a right-around-the-corner deadline.

So try anticipating and foresee the future. Provide solutions before they occur, and people will eventually begin to recognize that you have all the markings of a great leader.

Maintaining a ready to learn attitude

Even if you may be at the top right now, there is always room for improvement. So don’t let that mind of yours become oxidized, and always keep it working and sharpening by learning new skills. Needless to say, ensure you’re updated with the latest technology!

Attributes of a great leader can be acquired with observation, patience and persistence.

So which leadership qualities do you already have and which ones have yet to be developed? Let us know in the comments below!

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