Good leadership is an invaluable asset for any organization. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand the elements of what makes a great leader. The modern business world has changed dramatically in a short time, thanks to the technology boom that continues to disrupt companies all over the world. Many business leaders have had to adapt their strategies and philosophies to account for a constantly shifting business landscape.
A recent study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that people who stayed at a job were happier in part because their leaders gave them the freedom to develop their careers. This group used their strengths 33% more often and were more confident that they were improving their skills by 37%. Employee retention and overall company culture can be improved or hurt by how company leaders handle themselves.
A high-quality business leadership course can help you better grasp the fundamentals of good leadership, but it’s vital to understand the traits of a good leader and identify your own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leading your organization. Being a leader requires much more than the ability to make business-critical decisions with confidence; you must be able to inspire your employees, make them feel valued and part of a team, and encourage them to not only do their best work, but want to do their best work.
Essential Leadership Traits Every Business Leader Should Have
As you review the following essential leadership traits, bear in mind that these qualities can apply to in-person exchanges and virtual environments alike. As the world turns toward digital communication, remote work is becoming more common. Sticking to a traditional office-based workspace could potentially hamstring your operation. It’s essential to branch out and account for remote work to secure top talent for your organization, and you’re going to need to know how to manage and lead remote employees effectively.
The cost of poor leadership can be incredibly steep. Research shows that as many as half of the employees of an uninspiring leader are likely looking for new jobs elsewhere. Keeping your business operations flowing smoothly is just one part of running a successful company; you must also inspire your team and extract their best work to keep your company moving forward.
1.Effective Communication Skills. Leaders aren’t effective or inspiring if they cannot convey their ideas and plans concisely in an understandable way. Every good leader should be an effective communicator. This not only takes practice but also requires a blend of other essential leadership traits. Communication skills are extremely important in digital workspaces as well. A good leader should be able to effectively communicate across multiple channels, including personal interactions, voice calls, email, and the various text-based messaging platforms modern businesses use to maintain productivity across great distances.
2. Nothing diminishes an employee’s confidence faster than a dishonest leader. It’s essential for a good leader to be honest in all dealings with their employees. They must convey information accurately, represent their plans and decisions clearly, and provide their teams with all of the information they need to do their best work. Leaving out important information or sticking too closely to a stringent “need to know” policy can be incredibly frustrating for employees and won’t do much to inspire confidence.
3. Great leaders need to be able to interpret how their employees feel without directly asking. Keen awareness of one’s workforce and their attitudes as well as self-awareness are crucial components of good leadership. As a leader, you need to know how to read between the lines in text-based communications and intuit your team members’ feelings to fully grasp their motivations, goals, and hopes for their work. Awareness is also valuable in terms of diagnosing issues with business practices. If you aren’t aware of a problem, you can’t hope to appropriately address it.
4. The ability to understand other people is an often-overlooked aspect of good leadership. Too many leaders take a Jupiterian position over their workforces, only stepping “down into the weeds” to micromanage or address issues when they have no idea what it is like to be the boots on the ground for the company. If you want to be able to really empathize with your employees, you need to understand what they do on a day-to-day basis and try to relate them on personal and professional levels.
5. Accountability and Professional Responsibility. Leaders must be able to own their decisions and the consequences of those decisions. A great leader knows how to take responsibility for major decisions and the fallout from poor ones. Bad leaders pass the buck and typically attempt to cast blame for failed projects, mistimed campaigns, and other mistakes on their managers and employees. This is not a tenable strategy, and the leaders who do these things hemorrhage loyalty very quickly.
6. Optimism and a Forward-Thinking Attitude. No one wants to come to work everyday to a job they feel is pointless. Employees at all levels need to feel like their work has purpose. It’s the leader’s job to inspire this feeling of purpose. Leaders should look at missteps and difficult times as opportunities and avoid falling into despondency that will inevitably soak into every layer of the company. When leaders maintain their optimistic outlooks and maintain forward-thinking leadership presence within an organization, this inspires employees to put their best work forward.
7. Fostering Creativity in Employees. It’s one thing to know how to find top talent, but it’s another thing entirely to extract the best possible work out of talented employees. A good leader should know how to recognize creativity and acknowledge employees who display creative thinking. Sticking with what works will only last so long, and every business will inevitably encounter disruptions and other issues that demand creative solutions. The best leaders are the ones that empower their teams to deliver great results during these times.
8. The Ability to Promote Teamwork. All employees should know how to work effectively on their own, but they must also know how to work cohesively in groups. It’s the leader’s job to delegate tasks to the most appropriate agents to execute those tasks and assign teams that draw out the strengths of each individual member.
9. Leaders are the ones responsible for making business-critical decisions, and they need to make such decisions with confidence. A good leader is one who can make a calculated decision with confidence and stick by that decision as the consequences of it unfold. Employees look to their leaders to know what they are doing and how to make the best out of uncertain situations.
10. A disorganized leader does not inspire much confidence in employees. Great leaders should be able to multitask effectively and keep their materials, projects, team members, and ideas organized. A well-oiled business machine is one that maintains solid organization from the top down, so it’s the leader’s job to set the standard of organization for a company. In virtual work environments, organization is especially important so employees can stay on track regardless of distance.
The business world will continue evolving in surprising ways, and great leaders will need to adapt to the times. Even as workplaces grow more digital and remote work becomes the standard for many industries, great leaders are those who maintain these leadership traits across all the channels they use to manage their companies.