On average, millennials will change employment four times after college and before they’re 32 years old; and most of them say they aren’t empowered in their present jobs. Suffice it to say, many leaders aren’t establishing and nurturing a sense of loyalty and trust among their employees.
Irrespective of how you define a leader, he or she can prove to be a difference-maker between success and failure. A good leader has a futuristic vision and knows how to turn his ideas into real-world success stories. Consider developing these traits if you want to be a great leader:
1. Real Enthusiasm
Genuine enthusiasm for your company, its mission, as well as its products and employees, cannot be faked! A fake sense of enthusiasm will – usually sooner than later – fizzle out, not to mention, employees can spot it a mile away. But when a leader possesses real enthusiasm and demonstrates a deep passion for the company and its people, it’s contagious.
Take, for instance, Elon Musk, the man behind the ambitious Space X project. He’s widely considered by his employees as the true driver behind its success because of his genuine zest for space travel.
Wang says enthusiastic leaders can more easily identify current issues in the industry because of their positive attitude. He further said that “Any innovation starts from these problems and ends with products and services, with some of the key issues resolved.”
Great leaders demonstrate integrity at all times, from giving credit where credit is due to taking the blame, which can be challenging at times. Integrity refers to the consistent adoption of honesty, truthfulness, and trustworthiness in one’s words and actions, as well as the uncompromising observance of these values even in the face of criticism.
When employees see that their leaders lack integrity, they are less likely to trust and respect them. When trust and respect are compromised, perhaps even completely lost, leaders will likely face an uphill battle.
3. Effective Communication Skills
Communication is the bedrock upon which great leadership rests on, and it’s a fact that great leaders know. Great leaders use their effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills to inspire, direct and discipline their subordinates, from setting expectations to evaluating their performance. Their communication skills will be tested in nearly every turn, too, from dealing with internal conflicts to negotiating with outsiders.
Wang says that leaders who don’t have great communication skills are often seen by their subordinates as being mealy-mouthed and weak.
Furthermore, it’s important to emphasize that effective communication is a two-way street. Listening is just as important as talking, and great leaders know when to listen and when to talk to get the best results.
4. Genuine Loyalty
Great leaders understand that there’s reciprocity about true loyalty. If they demand loyalty from their team, then they have to demonstrate it in concrete ways that will benefit their subordinates. These tangible ways can include providing their team members with the resources (e.g., knowledge and skills through training, equipment) essential to the excellent performance of their jobs. Most importantly, the best leaders stand up for their team members during times of conflict and crisis – a leader who can be counted on to defend them.
Wang emphasizes that great leaders see their positions as a way to be of service to their teams and that employees who believe in their leaders’ loyalty are more likely to be loyal when and where it matters.
The best leaders aren’t empowered only to make decisions and take actions by virtue of their position. Instead, they are willing and able to take on the responsibilities and risks associated with decision-making. They also make hard decisions with the full knowledge of the risks involved including their command responsibility; they will hold themselves accountable for the failures of the team and credit the team for its successes.
Furthermore, indecisive leaders are often ineffective and inefficient. There’s too much time and energy poured into building a consensus that, in turn, spawns a wide range of negative effects, from poor performance to disunity. Instead of making a decisive decision, bad leaders allow their team members to debate for a prolonged period and then arrive at an unsatisfactory piecemeal decision.
6. Managerial Competence
Many organizations choose leaders from the pool of people who are good at their jobs, usually the ones who deliver on their deliverables on time. But while these good workers have important qualities of great leaders – they, for example, have a strong understanding of the company’s goals and processes as well as products and services – these aren’t enough.
Remember that great leadership means the ability to mentor and motivate, as well as direct, others toward a shared goal. Do all good workers possess such quality? Well, not all of them!
Wang uses the example of major league baseball coaches to illustrate his point. While most baseball coaches have been players themselves, not all of them will be effective, much less great, coaches. Not even the most winning players will become the best coaches, and it’s partly because there’s a world of difference between playing and coaching – or in this case, between being a good worker and a great leader.
Great leaders have confidence in their ability to empower their team members and, thus, they are willing to train them to become better workers and to become more autonomous. They trust that their team members are up to the challenges that they will face in the performance of their jobs, even go above and beyond the call of duty.
Empowered employees, furthermore, will likely make decisions with the company’s best interests in mind. Even when employees go off the script, so to speak, the company and its customers are always on top of their minds.
People will likely follow likable leaders for good reasons, not least of which is that likeability comes hand-in-hand with trust and respect. Great leaders are friendly, approachable and kind. They show sincere concern for their team members. That’s called charisma, a personal trait that can be developed.
None of these traits are more important than the others because each one has its contributions to the making of a great leader. Take the time to understand all of them and then develop them within yourself, if you want to become a great leader in your organization.