Perhaps the greatest quality any leader can have is vision – the ability to see the big picture of where the organization or team they are working within is headed, what it’s capable of, and what it will take to get there.
Equally as important as having a vision is the ability to convey that vision to others, and get them excited about it. This means maintaining a positive yet realistic presence within the organization helping team members stay motivated and engaged, and remember what it is that they are working for.
Strategic & Critical Thinking
A good leader will be able to think critically about the organization or team they work within and develop a clear understanding of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (and how they as an individual can work to support or overcome these). They’ll be able to course-correct when necessary, and be able to assess the work they do to determine how it fits into overall organizational strategy and goals.
Good leaders must be able to interact with other people in a way that feels genuine. This does not mean you have to be an extrovert or a people-person to be a leader – there are many excellent leaders who self-identify as introverts! Rather, it means being able to demonstrate empathy, engaging in active listening, and building meaningful working relationships with those around you, whether they are a peer or a direct report.
Authenticity & Self-Awareness
One of the key ways to become a great leader is to be self-aware enough to understand your strengths and your flaws and to build an authentic leadership style that’s true to who you are and how you do your best work. You want to be the best possible leader you can be, not try to fit into a mould set by someone else. Try to embrace the things that make you who you are, and that will naturally translate into you developing an authentic leadership style.
Open-Mindedness & Creativity
Being a good leader means being open to new ideas, possibilities, and perspectives, and understanding that there’s no “right” way to do things. Leadership involves the knowledge that success comes with a willingness to change how things are done and to bring in fresh eyes to inspire new ideas, in addition to trying to think outside the box as much as possible. Leaders must be able to listen, observe, and be willing to change course when necessary.
Leadership also means being adaptable and nimble when the situation calls for it. Nothing ever goes according to plan – whether you encounter minor roadblocks or large obstacles, you will need to be prepared to stop, reassess, and determine a new course of action. Good leaders will embrace the ever-changing nature of business and meet challenges with a flexible attitude – and be able to build inspire that same willingness to adapt in those around them.
Responsibility & Dependability
One of the most important qualities a leader can have is a sense of responsibility and dependability. This means displaying those traits in your individual work, but also demonstrating them in your interactions with others. Your team members need to know that they can depend on you to take on your fair share of work and follow-through, support them through tough times, and help them meet both shared and individual goals.
Leadership does not belong to those at the top of the organizational hierarchy, nor does it only apply to people who have what we would commonly consider the qualities of leadership (an outgoing personality, for example). It’s also important to note that though we often refer to leadership as a singular skill, in reality, it’s an accumulation of skills that are uniquely influenced by an individual’s personality and background.
Think about your own experience: of the leaders you’ve interacted with throughout your life, chances are, there is a number of different leadership styles represented. However, most of them probably possessed a similar set of good leadership qualities that they drew from to be successful.
*This interview is covered by Swiftnlift Business Magazine