A leader is someone who leads a business or a group of people. Apart from monitoring, a leader guides people in the direction they want them to proceed. They are excellent at making decisions that benefits the group as a whole. Good leaders solve problems and take up responsibilities and work with other responsible people so they can concentrate on growing the business. Leaders are also those who others voluntarily choose to follow. If you show several characteristics of a good leader but fail to understand that leadership is a social process, it is possible you won’t get very far on your own. You may be respected and liked, but it will be challenging to achieve team or organizational goals.
Characteristics of a good leader
While successful leaders may display these leadership skills to varying degrees, all good leaders utilize at least some or most of these characteristics. Together, these skills make up the foundation of leadership.
- Integrity – Integrity is especially important for top-level executives who are drafting the organization’s course and making numerous other significant decisions. Organization should reinforce the importance of integrity to leaders at various levels.
- Ability to Delegate – Delegating effectively is an important responsibilities of a leader. The goal isn’t just to get free, it’s also to enable your subordinates, promote teamwork, provide liberty, lead to better decision-making, and help your subordinates grow. To delegate, you also need to develop trust with your team.
- Communication – Effective leadership and effective communication are associated. You need to be able to communicate with a wide range of people in different ways, from giving information to coaching your people. The effectiveness of communication across your organization directly influences the success of your business strategy, too. See how better conversations can actually improve your organizational culture.
- Self-Awareness – While this is a more internally focused skill, self-awareness is an important characteristic of a good leader. The better you understand yourself, the more productive you can be. Find out how other people view you, or how you show up at work. Take the time to learn about the aspects of self-awareness, and how you can explore each component.
- Gratitude – Being grateful can make you a good leader. Gratitude can lead to higher confidence, reduced depression and anxiety, and even better sleep. Few people say “thank you” at work, even though most people say they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss. Try to thank people and practice more gratitude in the workplace.
- Learning Agility – This is the ability to know what to do when you don’t know what to do. If you have a quick mind or are able to shine in unfamiliar circumstances, you might already be learning agility. But anybody can cultivate learning agility through practice, experience, and hard work. Examine how good leaders are great learners, with strong learning agility to get started.
- Influence – Convincing people through logical appeals is yet another characteristic of a good leader. Influence is quite different from manipulation, and it needs to be done openly and accurately. It requires faith and emotional intelligence.
- Empathy – Empathy is correlated with job performance and if leaders show more empathy towards their subordinates, they’re more likely to be viewed as better performers. Empathy can be learned, and apart from making you more effective, it will also improve work for you and those around you.
- Courage – Courage is a key skill for good leaders as it can be hard to speak up at work, whether you want to give a new idea, provide feedback to a subordinate, or show concern for someone above you. Instead of avoiding problems or allowing conflicts to grow worse, courage helps leaders to step up and move things in the right direction.
- Respect – Respecting people is one of the most important things a leader can do. It will lower tensions and conflict, build trust, and improve effectiveness. Respect can be shown in many different ways. Try to cultivate a climate of respect at work.
Don’t fear if you feel these characteristics of a good leader don’t appropriately describe you. There are ways for you to improve on your leadership capabilities, including all these core skills. Leadership is a skill that can be developed and molded through experience, continuous learning and adaptation. In other words, you can strengthen any of these skills if you’re willing to grow and put in the time and effort towards self-improvement. Similarly, organizations can help their people sharpen these skills through leadership development training and real-world experience.