Great leaders get things done.
They make things happen, inspire change, invent products, build businesses and make a positive impact on communities around the world.
Leadership is in us all. But how do we find it?
There are many leadership qualities which we could list, but here are just a few of the main ones:
1) The ability to inspire others – if someone does not have this quality then nobody will really care whether they have leadership or not because nobody will follow them.
2) The ability to make quick decisions – leadership requires a lot of responsibility and the courage of your convictions.
3) Stepping forward as a leader in order for the group’s goals to be achieved – leadership qualities mean that somebody can have an objective look at things without being too attached, therefore it becomes easier for them to direct the path to lead somewhere meaningful.
4) Having patience with other people – leadership is not something which can be given to somebody overnight. It requires qualities where someone has the patience and determination to teach others.
5) Maintaining strength even when things aren’t going well – to continue pushing through difficult times, making sure that everyone they care about is safe and sound.
In this article, we’ll go through the nine most important traits of effective leaders – and how you can build them yourself.
“Leadership isn’t about titles, positions or flowcharts. It’s about one life influencing another.” – John Maxwell
Now, let’s get started.
What are the leadership qualities that make great leaders?
Leadership qualities are important because they help ensure that everyone has an equal chance of being heard.
They allow others to do what they’re good at, without wasting energy worrying about things outside their control. Great leaders help people to achieve their dreams by encouraging personal growth, or building passion in an idea or movement.
In order to inspire people, the nine vital leadership qualities we’ve chosen to focus on are:
1. Self awareness
Self awareness might not make you stand out as a leader straight away, but it’s the most important tool in your armory to learning leadership.
Self-awareness is your little black book of self improvement.
Being self aware will tell you when you’ve reacted well, and reacted badly. It’ll help you identify when you were patient, and when you weren’t. It’ll tell you when you used the right tone, and when you didn’t.
Self awareness will even help you characterise larger periods of time.
You’ll be able to understand and identify when you’ve had a negative day, or when you need to step up the positivity.
How to build self awareness to make yourself a better leader.
Self awareness starts with recording your actions.
To use an example in a different space, the app MyFitnessPal works with the same principles. It’s only by recording your food in a daily diary that you can be fully self aware of what you’re eating on a regular basis.
Self awareness works the same way, with a daily diary.
You don’t have to record every micro action, but you should definitely get an overview of your feelings throughout the day and how they made you act.
This will lead to target setting – like making five positive comments before midday, or smiling at people more often. These will then start to have tangible effects on the way you are perceived by others.
Write down a simple weekly diary and record the following at the end of each day:
- Overall mood, positive or negative.
- Times you made someone else feel good – for example, offering them help, giving compliments.
- What you learned throughout the day – a great leader never stops learning.
- Times you said thank you – gratitude is a keystone of leadership.
As you build your diary, you can record more aspects of your day, but the first part of self awareness is to understand the effect you have on others.
Once you start having a more positive effect on people, you’ll be surprised at how easily some of the other leadership qualities start falling into place.
Everyone’s communication can improve.
That’s because there are so many facets and aspects to it.
- Non verbal communication
- Written communication
- Spoken communication
The truth is, becoming more self aware will put you in better control of your feelings and actions. Communication is the next step.
Communication is how you take positivity to people. It’s how you pick the right time to make the right comment. It’s how you engage on the right platform. It’s how you can deliver a clear and concise message to your employees, friends, clients and family.
Communication underpins great relationships. It’s the most important part of becoming a leader in your own life.
Great communicators tend to get what they want, and it’s often the first thing we associate with the greatest leaders in history.
Luckily, the secret to better communication is hidden in plain sight.
Listening is how you can respond to what someone wants, not what you think they might want. Listening is how you’ll engage people and unlock their trust.
How to become a better listener
In order to be a good listener it all starts with being interested in what somebody has to say, if you’re listening for a reason then you won’t actually hear much of anything they tell you.
You need to understand what the other person is saying and supplying relevant responses as a way of showing them that you are listening to them.
One trick I’ve found which helps me maintain interest when listening is to imagine how the story would look on a television screen.
If you’re listening in order to offer support, then you need to remember that listening is not the same as solving the problem.
Integrity is a word that we don’t hear very often in daily conversation.
It’s defined as: Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. Integrity is really important when it comes to acting in just about every aspect of life, especially leadership, but why?
Many people will act however they think they need to at the moment, but integrity means showing the leadership qualities to stay true to your personal beliefs and principles, even when no one is looking or holding you accountable for what you do.
It is not easy to stay true to what you believe when the pressure is on, but this is what integrity means.
Through integrity, you can help build a more sustainable society where everyone feels valued and good about themselves. It also creates a sense of trustworthiness within others and helps create positive connections between people making way for a happier community.
It’s one of the fundamental leadership qualities to understand on the road to becoming a better leader.
Between friends, family members, work colleagues and even strangers, trust doesn’t come easy anymore.
However, trust is one of the most valuable qualities of a leader. Without trust, nobody will follow you.
The definition of trust can vary according to context, but it’s generally the belief that someone or something will not let you down and will be good to you in some way.
Trust can come from several places such as experience, past experiences, gut instincts etcetera..
Everyone’s idea of who is trustworthy changes all throughout life, but the best leaders have a way of instilling that belief in almost everyone.
Humility is an extremely underrated leadership quality.
After all, humility doesn’t seem like it will help you in your job or in your personal life in any way. However, humility it isn’t only beneficial to you, but also to those around you – and humanity as a whole.
Being humble can improve your mental health.
Take study done on nursing home employees. The study tested the humility and gratitude of each employee and then split them into two groups: those who’s humility increased and those whose humility decreased.
Those who showed an increase in humility also had a decrease in negative feelings such as helplessness, fear , depression, hostility, anger , shame, guilt, and tension.
Being humble can keep you from getting carried away by your own ego, which is essential for a leader. Being humble means being accepting of criticism while not ignoring your mistakes.
The very best leaders understand that humility is a shortcut to learning, while also making it easer to build real, loyal relationships with people.
The impact that positivity can have on a person, a company, a nation is truly incredible.
With positivity comes an insurmountable amount of inspiration and creativity to be able to change the world.
This positivity results in new ideas being generated, greater success for an organization or business, and gives hope to those who are struggling with negative emotions such as sadness or depression. Positivity is one of the most important qualities that someone can have if they want to lead others because positivity creates unity within companies/organizations which will result in higher productivity from everyone.
When an inspiring leader has positivity, not only is it contagious, but it also strengthens the relationships between people and makes them more inclined to trust each other.
Leaders strive to create positive habits and inclusive working environments to help knit teams together through a high level of energy and respect.
Vision is the cornerstone to leadership.
It’s not only a leadership quality, but it’s also important to the success of any person or organization.
Think about it. If there were no leaders who envisioned an idea and attempted to bring that idea into fruition how would anything get done?
Someone has to lead the way so others can follow.
A leader’s vision should be clear enough so people know what they’re doing and how they fit in with achieving a certain goal or task. In order for a vision to be effective, everyone involved has to have a good understanding of the vision itself.
Leadership theorist James McGregor Burns talks about leadership and vision in his book, Leadership: The key concepts to understanding leadership. In the introduction he states that leadership is about bringing people together to accomplish a task or solve a problem. He mentions that leadership has two parts to it:
1) the leadership process – how leadership affects individuals and organizations and
2) leadership as an activity – what leaders do such as make decisions and influence others, etc.
Two main topics Burns discusses are “characteristics” of leadership and “tasks” of leadership. One characteristic of leadership is vision, which means that a leader must have a goal for their organization or team/task at hand that they want people to focus on accomplishing by either leading those who need or following those who take initiative.
Without vision, nothing would get made.
Nothing would be created.
Nothing would happen.
To have a vision that other people can buy into, ask yourself:
- How do my goals benefit others?
- How is my vision exciting to my team?
- What problem are we solving together
A powerful vision is crucial to taking people on a journey with you.
Why is it important for leaders to have confidence?
Having leadership skills means that you possess a number of traits and capabilities. These include vision, integrity, intelligence, dedication, empathy and so on.
However, one thing which leadership skills don’t automatically guarantee a person having is the skill of self-confidence.
Self-confidence can be defined as a belief in oneself or one’s abilities to do something successfully without any doubt.
Self-confidence is vital for a leader because it can help decision making, allow you to rebound from mistakes, and show your team that you have total conviction in what you’re trying to do.
Confidence combined with humility is a powerful combination.
One of the most important leadership concepts that have come to light is courage. Courage can be defined as being undaunted in the face of danger or being unafraid to take on responsibility.
People who take leadership roles will experience times when they must make decisions that involve encountering danger, knowing that there is a chance they may fail.
Some examples of times when courage is needed include:
1) making unpopular decisions,
2) doing what’s right even if it’s difficult,
3) being willing to assume responsibility for actions taken,
4) taking initiative in critical moments,
5) maintaining standards even when no one else will do so
Citation: (Weer & Thanzami, 2017).
How can you learn leadership skills?
Do you want the leadership skills listed above?
Of course you do!
Well, it’s not quite as easy as you might think.
However, the good news is that leadership qualities are not innate – anyone can learn them.
The best thing to do is to start small, for example by leading teams or groups at work or school. As time goes on, you will find you become more experienced in leadership roles, as long as you spend time practicing them regularly.
Don’t worry if you don’t seem like a natural leader – leadership is something we can all improve upon. As long as you continue to listen, stay humble and self aware, you’ll build the trust that will make you into a natural leader as time goes by.
Leadership skills FAQs
There are many leadership skills that are important in order to be an effective leader, here are just some examples of them:
– being able to communicate clearly with your team so that they can understand you.
– delegating tasks appropriately so that the project is completed quickly and efficiently.
– being able to inspire others so that they want to follow you.
The defining characteristic of strong leadership is communication with your peers and subordinates. If you wish to be seen as a strong leader, you must have the ability to convey information effectively, and show the self discipline to continue learning from your own mistakes.
Poor leadership does not have communication skills of a competent leader, nor do they have enough knowledge of task delegation. A leader must be flexible enough to meet the needs of their team, while staying within expectations. The best leaders are able to get along with people despite different personalities, and find ways to contribute towards a common goal.