Leadership isn’t a one-size-fits-all ability. There are many different types of effective leadership, and one style might be perfectly suited to some managers and completely ineffectual for others.
That said, there are certain qualities that seem to remain consistent across all leadership styles. Five key leader characteristics that are effective leaders must possess include:
The best leaders inspire those around them not through their words, but through their actions. When your boss or mentor works hard for their goals with diligence and clarity of purpose, it’s hard not to feel motivated to do the same. No one wants to work for someone who delegates all of their work or doesn’t come through on promised deliverables. If you show dedication and drive for your work, the people under you will see that and respond in kind.
Wavering back and forth, changing direction on a whim, and failing to make clear, specific decisions — these bad habits show lack of confidence in your own judgement. Decisiveness does not mean stubbornness, nor does it mean rashness. It means an ability to take in all of the information presented, go over it thoroughly and thoughtfully, and make clear, timely choices.
The best leaders are accessible to the people that they work with. They’re willing to hear all sides of an issue and change course if they recognize a mistake or become convinced of a better solution. The very best leaders take this a step further and actively seek input from the people that they work with, their peers, and their mentors.
Great leaders take time to recognize the contributions of their team members. They don’t hog all the glory for themselves. They make a habit of acknowledging good work as it happens and rewarding people who rise to challenge with more job freedom, promotions, and/or mentorship.
Every great leader is able to communicate his or her ideas clearly and directly with a wide variety of audiences. Communication styles can vary dramatically. The particular style isn’t nearly as important as the conversational intelligence exhibited, the ability to empathize, and the ability to take and respond to questions.
What other qualities do you believe effective leaders exhibit?