What Are the Qualities of a Good Leader?
Being a strong leader means different things to different people. Some business leaders feel that they have to be strong-willed and very decisive. Others prefer to be more collaborative and include their team in decision-making. The good news is that effective leadership can take a variety of forms. You don’t have to force yourself to be different than your natural personality. While there are some qualities all great leaders have, the thing that makes a leader successful is that they can motivate their team to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently, while also developing others’ skill sets and career.
What qualities should you develop, in your own unique way, to become an effective, good leader? Let’s take a look.
1. A Genuine Concern for Others
One of the leadership qualities that makes a good leader stand out is that they have a sincere concern for those they lead. As a manager or executive, you’ll be in charge of a team full of individuals who have their own work styles, personalities, goals, and preferences.
When you have a true concern for your team members and their skills, you’ll strive to understand their particular styles and what motivates them. Using this information, you’ll be able to present tasks and provide rewards in a way that helps your team move forward.
Another aspect of genuine concern is wanting to help your team members advance their careers. Weak leaders block high-quality employees from advancing so they don’t leave the team. Great leaders are excited to see people grow and move forward.
The workplace culture of a leader that cares about employees and helps them advance is encouraging and helps employees stay engaged. A great example of this leadership is Dolly Parton. She is herself, and that is a shining example for her employees.
2. Great Communication Skills
Communication skills, both written and verbal, have always been an essential quality of a good leader. However, in today’s environment, it’s more important than ever. From COVID-19 to a general trend in the growth of remote work, there are many reasons that you could be working with people who are not physically in the office.
Some leaders are in charge of team members that live in other countries and work virtually to achieve project goals. Others are simply learning the new normal of increased working from home and video meetings that came from the COVID-19 crisis. Regardless, communication is more vital than it’s ever been.
Practice writing out your thoughts and seeing how well you can get your point across. Read up on best practices for video communication, and work closely with your employees to find out their preferred communication style.
Winston Churchill was a great example of excellent communication in a time of crisis. Not everyone liked him, but everyone listened. He worked hard to overcome a speech impediment and inspired others by appealing to shared values.
3. Consistent Treatment of Employees
There’s nothing more frustrating to employees than a manager that shows favouritism. Uneven treatment leads to resentment, disengagement, and even complaints about your actions to upper-level leaders.
As a human being, you’re going to have people you get along with more easily than others. However, that’s not an excuse to treat some people more favourably. Any preference you show when it comes to special projects or advancement should be due to skills and motivation, not personality and friendship.
It’s not easy to treat someone you don’t get along with just as fairly as someone you communicate with easily. However, if you’re going to be an effective leader, it’s a skill you have to develop. The good news is that when you treat everyone fairly, you might discover hidden talents in people that you would never have noticed before.
Mary Kay Ash, who founded Mary Kay Cosmetics, demonstrated this type of merit-based treatment. She focused on the success of each employee and measured results based on sales. The lavish sales rewards, including pink Cadillacs, are legendary.
The Result of Poor Leadership: A Toxic Environment
We know what great leadership leads to – completed projects, motivated staff, skill development, and frequent promotions. But what’s the result of poor leadership?
In a phrase, poor leadership causes a toxic work environment. A poisonous environment happens when a leader has poor communication, is unfair, and allows bullying and poor treatment to occur. The values of the company are not upheld in the manager’s department or team.
Most leaders and employees know when a workplace has deteriorated. There could be high turnover, positions in the department may stay open for a long time, and there could be a lot of drama. On the other hand, there could be a culture of workaholism, combined with discouragement to take breaks or vacation time and a feeling that ‘you’re lucky to work here.’
As a leader, you have a significant impact on the culture of your team and department. Don’t let your department deteriorate and become toxic. Instead, maintain a focus on being a successful leader and developing the skills you need to grow.
You Can Develop the Skills to Become an Effective Leader
No one is born a leader. The qualities of a good leader take time and intention to develop. Even if you have them to some degree, you can always get better. Work on having compassion and care for others, treating everyone fairly, and communicating more clearly. Most of all, do what you can to avoid and correct any elements of a toxic work environment that you notice in your department. As a leader, you can make a big difference in the daily experience your employees have at work. Make it a great one!