- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
Good leadership is vital in any organization or company that wants to succeed. However, if you’re already a manager and are looking to promote another employee to a similar position, or if you’re wondering whether you’ll be a good leader yourself, it helps to know what traits make a good leader.
Even if you don’t have these traits at the moment, knowing the traits to curate could lead you to become a good leader in the future.
Let’s break down the top traits all excellent leaders should have.
First off, any exceptional leader needs to be an honest and accountable person. Honesty, in this sense, is essentially indistinguishable from integrity – it means a leader that will own up to their own mistakes and will be authentic and legitimate when talking to their employees or any clients/customers.
Accountability is possibly even more important because it sets a shining example for all employees to follow. No one wants to follow a leader that isn’t accountable or has a style of “do as I say but not as I do”. Such a leader is a big hypocrite and will certainly not be a motivational force in your company.
Patience is also an extremely important trait for any good leader. This is because your employees will require different resources, different attention spans, and different time investments in order to reach their maximum potential. Leaders that can be patient with their employees or subordinates will be more inspiring and will more easily earn the loyalty of those who require a little extra work.
Besides, patience is great when it comes to making business decisions. All too often, cocky leaders may lack patience and jump into business arrangements or agreements without looking at all the angles or discussing a decision with their employees. Patience gives a leader the ability to calmly and carefully make good choices for them and their overall company.
Similarly, a good leader should be a diplomatic presence. Diplomacy is crucial if you want to forge good relationships between both you and your employees and help employees get along with each other. It can also be crucial if you, as a manager, are responsible for setting up new business relationships or clients with your organization.
Diplomacy can best be summarized as the ability to negotiate agreements between two parties so that both are at least partially satisfied. The better you are diplomacy, the better business deals you’ll strike, and the more people will like you in general.
All this talk of exceptional leadership qualities might to easily go to your head! This leads us to our next top trait: humility. Humility is super important for any leader since it prevents said leader from appearing too egotistical or full of themselves.
Appearances aren’t the only thing to worry about, too. Humility can be helpful for you as a leader since it prevents you from becoming overconfident or making poor business decisions. Humility is the true antidote to shame and will result in a more balanced, evenhanded approach to everything you do.
Suffice it to say that humility is one of the best traits you can learn period, not just for leadership.
A good leader should also be passionate, even if they should temper that passion with humility. Passion is a great thing in leaders since it reflects overall drive and ambition, which is more often than not reflected on their organization and employees.
Employees that are underneath a passionate leader are more likely to show passion of their own. This, in turn, translates to better work, more productivity, and a generally more positive work environment.
However, be careful not to overdo it when it comes to passion. Some people go to work and just want to collect a paycheck, and that may be okay for some employees in your organization. Also, don’t confuse passion with obsession – you’ll need to balance how much you care for your organization with other aspects of your life. Take care not to let yourself become swamped in your career or you’ll ultimately be more unsatisfied.
A good leader should also have exceptional vision. In this sense, vision means a tendency to think forward and look at the long-term picture or overall goals for an organization instead of the day-to-day or quarterly goals.
A bold and positive vision is necessary for companies to strongly evolve over a time frame. Vision can mean anything from an optimistic mission statement, to a long-term goal, to bottom lines that reflect excellent company production or sales numbers. Ultimately, vision is important for any leader since it helps your employees know why they’re working and what they’re doing, and reframes their efforts in a broader picture, which is essential for motivation.
Any leader worth their salt should also be empathetic. Be careful not to confuse empathy with sympathy: the latter is much weaker than the former and is just acknowledging pain or discomfort.
Leaders that show empathy with their employees truly take on their own struggles and will do everything they can to improve their situation. Such an approach will do wonders for earning the loyalty of your employees. It shows that you really care about them beyond what they can bring your company table.
Empathy can also be an important tool in negotiating with clients or customers. If you can successfully put yourself in the shoes of someone you’re dealing with, you’ll be more diplomatic by default and be able to come to a business arrangement that more adequately suits you both.
Lastly, be sure to practice open-mindedness as a leader. Open-mindedness will help you see things from the perspective of your potential clients or from your employees, and can help you make improvements to your organization that you otherwise wouldn’t have imagined.
This is closely tied to humility, as it assumes that you don’t know everything and that the best solution for a problem may lie with someone else. Indeed, true leaders know that their strength is compounded by the individual strengths of their employees. Being open-minded will help you see this much of the time.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell