Many would stand by the cliché that leaders are born and not made, but it can be argued that it may also be a trainable skill. There may be different ways to define what a leader is, but the main consensus is that it is someone who guides and directs a group of individuals into the accomplishment of a common goal or task.
However, there is more to leadership than just that. A really good quote about this is by John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States. He said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more – you are a leader.”
We did a bit of research, and while there is no standard list of traits per se, leadership boils down to these traits that a lot of bosses, company and team heads, and others in various lead roles seem to have in common.
1. Respect – It’s human nature to want respect, but remember that it goes both ways. A leader cannot expect to receive respect if he or she does not know how to give it as well. A good leader respects the opinions of their team, even when ideas clash. You will not get respect if you are intolerant, stubborn and dismissive of everyone else’s opinions and views. Good leaders don’t see their own views as the only right ones – they seek the opinions of others and value them. They know when to agree or disagree, and with class. More often than not, these kinds of people are open to learning and making themselves (and in turn, their entire team) better.
2. Listen – There are talkers, and there are listeners. However, who says you can’t be both? Good leaders know how to talk and listen. It’s one thing to preach what you know, but it’s an entirely different thing to be the one on the other side of the fence. It’s not just hearing what others have to say, but actually listen to them. Again, it boils down to respect.
3. Be Transparent – Good leaders are honest and can be quite candid with both the ones they lead as well as the ones they report to.
4. Share Information – There is a misconception that leaders need to be dictators. Good leaders don’t merely dictate – they allow things to go both ways. They share information and they learn from their team as well. It’s a two-way street where everyone has to communicate and well. It’s okay to disagree – that is how you learn. Although technology is at its peak, nothing beats talking and sharing ideas in person. Great leaders do this as much as they can without interfering with their team or company’s productivity.
5. Own Your Work – Great leaders take ownership of their field and the work they do (giving credit where it’s due, of course). They take responsibility for the things they do, the people they work with and for, and the outcome of these projects. Whether something is a success or a failure, good leaders take pride in it. If it’s a success, they celebrate those who did well. If unfortunately it’s a failure, they take the best parts and learn from the rest.
6. Keep Your Integrity – Honesty sometimes really is the best policy, but it doesn’t end there. Integrity at work means staying true. This means avoiding short cuts and not taking credit for other peoples’ work. Never shift blame onto someone else.
What else do you think are the traits of an effective leader?