This question was posed to me recently by a new manager that I am coaching, "What are the qualities of a good Leader?" Although I could probably rattle off a list of items that I know from research and the experts, I had never really thought about what I consider to be essential leadership attributes, so I had to really think about it... This is what I came up with:
1) Build Trust- Trust is the hallmark of any relationship, but particularly leadership. Trust is also very fragile, and can be broken easily. But the challenge is that Trust is such a subjective and abstract concept, which is why I really appreciate the Speed of Trust book by Stephen Covey. Below, you can download the 13 principles mentioned in the book. These serve as an effective guideline of how to build, maintain, and rebuild trust if it has been lost.
2) Be Consistent- One surefire way to lose Trust is to be inconsistent and unpredictable in your decisions, your leadership style, and your emotions as a Leader. Your Team must know that they can depend on you, regardless of whether you're having a bad day, you're under stress, you're dealing with personal concerns, or if they've made a mistake. Consistency in behavior, problem- solving, and discipline is key.
3) Learn & Grow- A Leader is by default a life- long learner. We are keenly aware of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, both personally and professionally, and we operate accordingly.
4) Own and FIX Mistakes- Leaders are not perfect. It is inevitable that we will make the wrong choice, implement the wrong policy, or give credit to the wrong person within the course of our career. What matters most is that we acknowledge when we are wrong, own our mistake, and immediately take action to make things right.
5) Understand People- You don't need a degree is Psychology to be a Leader, but it doesn't hurt... LOL!! You don't need to become an expert in human behavior and motivations, but you must know enough about human tendencies and blind spots to be able to effectively lead and energize your Team, and yourself.
6) Be Resourceful- Leaders don't have all the answers, but they don't stop looking, until they find them.
7) Be Flexible- It's important that Leaders focus on the Goal, but not be intimately attached to the journey or the process, as those things will certainly change along the way to the intended result. Leaders must practice expansive vs rigid thinking.
8) Have a Support Team- Leadership can be an isolating experience. You must have your own cheerleading squad, who will celebrate your victories, call you out when you're wrong, and give wise advice when you need it. Without this, you risk stagnation in your personal and professional development. And it doesn't count if you assemble your Support Team, but don't listen to anything that they say. All Leaders must know when to lead, and when to follow...
9) Think Ahead- Leaders have to be 3-5 steps ahead of the current situation, project, or strategic decision. Otherwise, technically you're not leading, but merely executing. Take the time to think through the long- term implications of strategies and choices, and ensure that they are in alignment with where you are seeking to end up. If not, be confident enough to make a pivot to the right direction.
10) Practice Self Care- Leadership takes a toll on you emotionally, mentally, and physically. It would be unwise to minimize this fact. Therefore, it is imperative that you Consistently (see # 2) engage in activities that nurture your soul, and that you get plenty of rest as needed. Practicing self- care is the first step towards effective leadership and performance.
If you would like to discuss these areas further, we're here to chat!