The thing about leaders is that they are recognized more by the impact or influence they have on others. We all have heard the most common phrase about leaders which goes like this – “Leaders are not born, they are made”. While this definitely doesn’t mean that there are no born leaders out there. But rest assured that if you adopt certain practices or common qualities of a good leader and start influencing people, you can be a leader too. Even the born leaders have to learn certain methods, characteristics, and qualities in order to get the desired results. Evidently, leadership is a process that requires constant learning and growth.
Leaders today are shaping the world. They are not just doing good for their own organization or company but they are also helping the world to build young and confident employees. Leaders inspire the rest of the people to reach heights. Steve Jobs had famously said, “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could.” Leaders should get the best out of their team and at the same time, inspire them to do the unthinkable. There are many more characteristics or qualities that good leaders should possess such as –
What are the Qualities of a Good Leader?
1. Confidence or self-belief
Think of any leader that you have ever communicated with. What do you remember about him or her? Let me tell you, most people would say “Confidence”. Self-belief and confidence can’t remain hidden. These two are such traits that speak for a person who has them. They are also non-verbal communication. Good leaders ensure that they look confident in their eye movement, gestures and hand movements. They are also always sure about the decisions they are taking, thus, self-belief is also one of the most common personality traits among leaders.
How to adapt it
As a leader, you have to have faith in yourself first. If you don’t believe in yourself, how will someone else? Even if you are doubtful about something and there is no alternative available, fake confidence. It is extremely critical to show your subordinates that you know what you are doing and you have self-belief. Practice self-belief. Make sure you don’t question yourself every time you make a decision. Research enough in the first place so that there is no scope of doubt.
If a leader who is leading a team of many people doesn’t show empathy, the employees or subordinates are never going to like him. When a leader listens to the other person with the aim to understand and empathize, everyone appreciates it. Empathy makes leaders look like any of us. It also makes the leader understand his employees better. If the leader starts to walk in his employees’ shoes for a while, he would understand where they are coming from and why they think what they think.
How to adapt it
To adapt empathy, you have to ensure that you are a good listener first. Always listen to what the other person has to say and try to comprehend his or her thought process. Put yourself in their shoes and try to come on the same page. Sometimes it is okay to bring them on the page that you are and sometimes, you can make them understand your point of view. Empathy is an important leadership trait, ensure that you practice it.
3. Integrity and morals
Good leadership is when the leader has strong moral principles and doesn’t deter from standing by them always. There are always many people under a leader who look up to him or her, thus, it is required that he or she leads by example and always remain true to their words. Integrity also shows when a leader knows how to say sorry for his mistakes and how to point out a mistake done by others. A great leadership shows when the leader not only restrain from unethical work but also stops others from doing so.
How to adapt it
It is really important for the leader to communicate what he believes in and what is not okay with him. Communication plays a huge role in building an effective leader. Once the subordinates know what is alright for their leaders and what is not, it becomes easy for them to follow through. Further, integrity is not just a good leadership attribute but it also helps a company build a strong reputation. Ensure that your company’s leaders or business leaders are always showcasing their integral values and principles.
4. Vision and passion
A leader’s main job is to lead. Sometimes, the subordinates may not fully understand what they are trying to achieve by working hard on something but if the leader is very clear in his or her vision, it becomes easy for everyone involved. It is extremely important for the leader to have a very clear vision. At the same time, the leader must have a passion for turning his or her vision into reality. When the leader tells the team what they all are trying to accomplish together, the team members are more likely to feel motivated and driven.
How to adapt it
Great leaders first find clarity in their own ideas and planning. They make a very clear vision for themselves and their team members. Leaders also do their research and look into the future. They not only decide where they want to take the company but they also anticipate problems and challenges. Further, they roll up their sleeves and involve the team in their planning. They must always tell the team how they arrived at a particular vision and how it can be achieved. They must also ask the team about their opinions on the planning and see if they have something interesting to add.
5. Communication skills
As human beings, we use communication as a tool to convey our thoughts and ideas all the time. Good communication skills ensure that everyone is on the same page and there is no confusion left. When a leader is a good communicator, his message reaches people efficiently. Imagine, what would be the point if the leader has a vision and knows what he or she wants but can’t communicate to the teammates? Communication skills are, thus, one of the most important leadership qualities of a leader. While taking a leadership role, ensure you are open to sharing your ideas with everyone in an articulate manner.
How to adapt it
To adapt communication skills, practice. Be very clear about your own goals, passion, and future plans. Make sure you communicate what needs to be communicated to the team so everyone is on the same page. Always try to solve a problem by having an open conversation with your team-mates or subordinates. Never avoid difficult conversations as it leads to complications and low-quality delivery of work. Communication skills also make a person look more confident and reliable.
6. Emotional intelligence
You may have often come across situations where people lose their calm and composer because they don’t have a strong sense of emotional intelligence. In any work environment, having strong emotional intelligence is extremely crucial. It is important to understand that different people have different styles of working and they come with their own experiences and emotional baggage. In such a complex working atmosphere, it is important for the leader to check on his or her emotions and maintain a certain balance. The leader shouldn’t be overly emotional about things but at the same time, he should show some sensitivity towards his teammates.
How to adapt it
To adapt to emotional intelligence, leaders must first check on their own emotions. They must make sure that their personal struggles or opinions are not hampering the office work. If they have issues such as anger, anxiety, etc, they must deal with it outside the office space. They can also take external help to fix the problem. However, once in office, they must maintain between showing empathy and being strict. They should never be rude or arrogant towards their teammates’ emotions, however, they should learn to deal with emotions. Emotions, if not dealt with precision, can harm the culture of a workspace.
A leader always has to face a lot of challenges. In such situations, it really matters if he or she can take risks and show courage. Courage is one of the most important leadership skills. When the senior-most staff of a company imposes certain practices, it is the leaders who have the power to ensure that the sense prevails and things work in favor of everyone involved. Sometimes, leaders have to take stern action. A good leader is the one who doesn’t deter from taking a strong stand. When the leaders show courage, they also inspire their team to not be scared of performing the right things. Courage takes leaders to places in the long term.
How to adapt it
Fearlessness is not a very easy skill to adapt. The leader needs to be extremely confident and stable to have the courage to take strong actions. Courage is the quality of a great leader that needs to be taken seriously by the leaders. When you, as a leader, show confidence and courage, your team looks up to you and find motivation. They learn from you. Always ensure you keep your inhibitions aside or sort them yourself in your mind. Never show that you are scared of taking risks to achieve the goals.
A leader always needs to make decisions and sometimes, quick decisions too. A leader’s job is to ensure that decisions are always well-thought and not hasty. Sometimes, the leader needs to make decisions that may not seem okay to the team or seniors but for a leader strong decisiveness is paramount. Good decision-making ability clubbed with a positive attitude works wonders for any leader. It also reduces the possibility of any confusion or conflicts.
How to adapt it
Leaders must look into the future and anticipate the repercussions of their decisions. They should also try to help the team understand the reasoning behind certain decisions. Sometimes, leaders may also have to take very strong actions and decisions against their teammates. This can be a little difficult for some of the leaders but if you want to set a good example in front of the rest of the members, you must do the right thing.
Each leader has a different style of working. You don’t have to feel pressure to have all the qualities mentioned. However, it is suggested that you try to learn to follow most of these.
Some more qualities of a good leader –
- Confidence or self-belief
- Integrity and morals
- Vision and passion
- Communication skills
- Emotional intelligence
It is always important to remember that great leaders lead by example. If they are not good at any of these qualities, they should keep learning. They should never shy away from growing constantly and learning from their subordinates. Most times, the process of leading a team teaches you more than anything else.
Ankita calls herself a road-child because of her love for road trips and landscapes. A journalist turned digital nomad, she is either telling stories or looking outside the car window aimlessly. She has traveled most of India by road, and encourage other women to take such life-changing journeys. Ankita is also a mental health advocate and a survivor herself. She likes to tell her story through writing and photography, with the aim to change at least some lives.