This week I had an opportunity to attend the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Signature Program in Dallas. I met great managers and executives from different organizations and had a chance to learn about leadership development. Our workshop facilitator posed the question, “What are you looking for in a leader?” We had several interesting responses which I would like to share in this blog post.
Whether you are a manager or an employee in your organization, there are common attributes and characteristics all leaders must have. Every leaders bring a different set of skills, knowledge and management style. Here is a list of the most common ones we shared for effective leadership.
It is nearly impossible for any leader to represent all of these qualities in their work, however you may use the list as a guide to those qualities seen as successful and important for effective leadership. As you read the list think about which ones you feel you excel at and which you feel you might need to work on. The good news is that each of these leadership qualities can be learned and developed.
They have a compelling vision
All great leaders have a vision. They communicate what they wish to accomplish with the people they lead. They have a clear, inspiring idea of where they are going and what they are trying to achieve in order to be successful. This quality separates them from managers. Having a clear vision creates a sense of purpose and mission to rally people around a common cause. While a managers get things done, great leaders tap into the emotions of their employees by connecting them into a better vision.
They have to be honest
People want to know their leader is honest. Whether they succeed or fail, they want their leader to be completely open and transparent with them. If things are not going well in the company or they made mistakes, people want to know their leader is able to give a full disclosure of the facts. All employees agree on the importance of complete honesty in everything they do, both internally and externally. Integrity is the bedrock of trust. It requires that you always tell the truth, to all people, in every situation. Truthfulness is the foundation quality of all relationships that is necessary for business success.
They must trust you
At the end of the day, people have to trust you as their leader. If they have a room for doubt, your influence as a leader would create a lot of tension and second guessing about whether you can lead any team. If you think about, trust is built from some of the other attributes I mentioned already. People want honesty, transparency and even vulnerability from their leader. They are not expecting their leader to be perfect, but they have to trust you that you have their best interest in mind.
They lead by example
As a leader, you have to walk the talk. No one follows a leader without credibility through their own actions. Don’t ask people to do something, unless you have done it yourself. Credibility tells people you are there with them. You are not on the Ivory tower barking orders at people. Whatever you are trying to accomplish, always be there with your troops fighting the “battles” on the front lines.
They communicate effectively
Regardless of whether you’re talking about business, politics, sports or the military, the best leaders are first-rate communicators. You can tell that their values are clear and solid, and what they say connects with people. Their teams understands them and want to have an effective dialogue through on-going communication.
They invest in people
Great leaders not only take the time for personal growth, but they also invest in their team’s potential. If you want to create an empowering culture of competent people and leadership, you must take the time to invest in people to sharpen the capabilities of each individual on your team.
They are resilient
Leadership can be a tough business. Lots of responsibilities and you inherit problems every day. Many leaders face different challenges and they are asked to solve them very quickly. People want their leader to be resilient in difficult times and move forward to provide a better tomorrow.
They are open to feedback
Encouraging feedback from your team can be daunting for fear that you may not like what they have to say. However, it is this feedback that will make or break you as a leader. But you can’t just ask a question for the sake of asking, you must ask the right question and stay open to listen for the feedback, good or bad. Asking for their feedback builds trust and respect with your employees. It shows them you are genuine and care about their success more than your own.
They have a strategic outlook
Great leaders are not only visionaries but they are also strategic thinkers. They have the ability to look ahead, to anticipate where their industry is going and how their market is changing. Leaders have the ability to anticipate trends, well in advance of their competitors. They continually search for new ways to foster innovation and differentiate themselves from other companies.
They are committed to excellence
A great leader is committed to excellence. Second best does not equate to great leadership. A leader not only maintains high standards, but also is proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas. They continually challenges people to improve and live a higher standard.