There’s some truth to the age-old adage, “Great leaders are born, not made“. This is true to some extent in that the capacity for great leadership is innate. However, the ability to learn how to become a more effective leader is within everyone’s reach – regardless of whether you lead a plethora of teams, an entire company, or just one staff member. The following are a few of the qualities and traits of effective leaders that you can learn and practice.
Leadership Qualities for Everyone
1.) Effective leadership engages in self-assessment
Effective leaders tend to take stock of their individual strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis. This is accomplished by asking introspective questions such as the following: What do I like to do, What am I really good at, What are my areas of weakness, What do I dislike doing
Knowing your areas of weakness does by no measure make you a weak individual. On the contrary, it allows you to delegate to others who have those abilities in order to achieve a common goal. Rather than clinging on to the false belief that they can do it all, effective leaders hire people who complement, rather than supplement, their skill set. Furthermore, working on your areas of weakness will further your ability to lead. Most importantly, recognizing your weaknesses makes you more human.
2.) Sharp perception is a trademark of effective leadership
Are you aware of how people really perceive you? Effective leaders certainly do! They engage in an easy level of genuine communication with their teams and their peers. They also have a thorough understanding of how they are perceived. Testing others’ perception of you can be as simple as taking note of their behavior. Are your colleagues and teammates relaxed around you? Does the conversation come to an abrupt stop when you enter the room?
If you truly want to know what people think of you, just ask them! You may receive feedback that you’re struggling to listen or show appreciation as well as you could be. However, if you’ve established a culture of honest and open communication, then you should be able to ask about your good qualities and the areas in which you need to improve. Your colleagues will appreciate your effort nonetheless and may even view you as a more effective leader than they did before.
3.) Great leaders respond to the group’s needs
Becoming more perceptive of one’s surroundings can also help a leader be more effective. This is especially true when it comes to knowing the needs of one’s team. Most teams value trust over creativity, whereas other teams prefer a crystal clear communicator to a great organizer. Building a strong team is easier when you know the values and goals of each individual, as well as what they require from you as their leader.
4.) Effective leaders know their organization
Effective leaders know their organization’s overall purpose and goals inside and out. They’re also more than familiar with the agreed-upon strategies in place to achieve said goals. They also know how their specific team fits into the larger picture. Furthermore, they know the role they play in helping the organization grow and thrive. A well-rounded understanding of your organization – both inside and out – is essential to becoming an effective leader.
5.) Communication is a must for effective leadership
Good communication is a hallmark trait of leaders. However, effective leaders possess an outstanding ability to communicate their ideas.
6.) Effective leaders know how to motivate their teams
Effective leaders pride themselves on their ability to inspire those around them. That being said, motivation is best accomplished via example and guidance…not by issuing commands.
7.) Team building is a must for effective leaders
Assembling strong teams that work well together is another essential trait of effective leaders. The opposite is also true – if a team is dysfunctional and weak, it is typically a failure in leadership.
8.) Effective leaders take risks
A well-oiled team relies on its leader for three key reasons:
- Show them where they are going,
- Why they are going there,
- How they’re going to get there
People are more motivated when an effective leader clearly articulates their vision for a project or for the organization as a whole, along with the steps – or goals – needed to achieve it.
Becoming an effective leader is anything but a one-time task. It takes time to learn and practice leadership skills until they become a part of your individual ethos. When you practice the above leadership skills, you can become a more effective leader at any stage of your career regardless of the size of your organization. There are opportunities to learn leadership skills all around you. Take advantage of these opportunities to improve your career and leadership prospects.