Leadership: What are the characteristics of a great leader and how do you become one? Today, leadership skills are one of the best skills you can have. The people who possess the qualities of a leader are capable of many things. They can undertake a successful business project or rise to the highest positions within a company.
When thinking about the concept of leadership, many people assume that it is the same as management. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A leader can be anyone, regardless of their position. Similarly, many managers do not actually possess the leadership qualities that would make them true leaders.
In most companies, there are many people who manage are responsible for a group of members. They make sure people fulfill a certain amount of responsibilities and tasks to make the organization work. However, this person is not necessarily a leader.
Leadership is a set of skills with which a person is able to influence others. For instance, to help others work with motivation and focus. Then, they can achieve every goal. Likewise, it is very important not to confuse leadership with “command”.
A leader uses his abilities to inspire confidence in everyone they lead so that they are capable of achieving the goals set.
Leadership can mean many things to different people. A good definition of an effective leader is a person who does the following:
- Create an inspiring vision of the future.
- Motivate and inspire people to commit to that vision.
- Manage the delivery of the vision.
- Train and build a team, to be more effective in achieving the vision.
- When considering what strong leadership looks like, there are some qualities that tend to be true across the board.
These are traits that every good leader has, or should strive for.
Characteristics of a great leader
Perhaps the greatest quality any leader can have is vision. The ability to see the big picture of where the organization or team is heading. Also, what they are capable of, and what it will take to get there.
2. Inspiration, characteristics of a great leader
Just as important as having a vision is the ability to convey that vision to others and get them excited about it. This means maintaining a positive but realistic presence within the organization. They should help team members stay motivated and engaged, and remember what they are working for.
For a person to be recognized as a leader, all their leadership must be built on a solid foundation. So, it must consist of a set of values. Then, these values are transmitted to each of the members of the work team or organization to which the member belongs.
It is also very important to bear in mind that a leader is a person who must inspire confidence. In fact, there’s nothing better than a leader with impeccable moral ethics.
Being in touch with your emotions, knowing how to manage them, and being able to understand those of the people around you is key. To be a good leader you must first be able to lead yourself, having control over your thoughts and emotions.
Keep in mind that leadership is a continuous learning process. Leaders find themselves constantly striving to improve and maintain a positive environment. The optimism and enthusiasm are contagious, and they help new leaders emerge in your organization.
3. Strategic and critical thinking
A good leader will be able to think critically about their team. Also, they must understand their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. And how they, as individuals, can work to support or overcome them. They will be able to correct the course when necessary. Similarly, they are able to evaluate the work they do to determine how it fits into the overall strategy and goals of the organization.
The ability of a leader to transmit the approach to each of the members of his team will ensure that they don’t lose focus. You must knowthat one of the most important qualities of a leader is to set an example. If your actions are not consistent with what you say, you will never be able to influence others.
Start talking less and listening more. That way, you will realize the valuable insights and learning you can get from your peers. In addition, listening is an excellent opportunity to receive feedback. As much as you think you have everything under control, their perception may be different.
4. Interpersonal communication, characteristics of a great leader
Good leaders need to be able to interact with other people in a way that feels genuine. However, this does not mean that you have to be outgoing or a people person to be a leader. Many great leaders identify themselves as introverts! Rather, it means being able to demonstrate empathy, engage in active listening, and build meaningful working relationships with those around you.
Building leadership is having good communication with your team. The importance of good communication lies in the fact that it is not one-sided. In other words, a good leader listens to each and every one of the members of their work team. The ideas must be agreed upon among all to maintain harmony among the team members.
Knowledge becomes even more valuable when it is shared. Every good leader cares about the members of their team constantly taking on new challenges. Doing so will not only improve the performance of the group but will make them grow as professionals and keep them inspired.
5. Authenticity and self-awareness
One of the key ways to become a great leader is to be self-aware enough to understand your strengths and weaknesses. Also, to build an authentic leadership style that is true to who you are and how you do your best work. You want to be the best leader possible, not try to fit into a mold set by someone else.
Try to embrace the things that make you who you are, and that will naturally result in you developing an authentic leadership style.
A good leader cannot stay with the processes already established. The generation of innovative ideas that aim to improve productivity is key within the qualities of a leader.
Generally, the leader infects each of the members of his team with that enthusiasm to innovate. That is, without a doubt, something that will positively influence the organization.
The ability to manage your emotions and to help your team members develop them is of great help. A leader who helps channel the emotions of their team will help them know how to react in any scenario within the company.
6. Open mind and creativity, characteristics of a great leader
Being a good leader means being open to new ideas, possibilities, and perspectives, and understanding that there is no “right” way to do things. Leadership involves the knowledge that success comes with the willingness to change the way things are done. Leaders bring in new eyes to inspire new ideas, as well as trying to think outside the box as much as possible. They must be able to listen, observe, and be willing to change course when necessary.
Leadership also means being adaptable and agile when the situation calls for it. When nothing goes according to plan. Whether you encounter minor obstacles or big obstacles, you’ll need to be prepared to stop, reevaluate, and determine a new course of action. Good leaders will embrace the changing nature of business and face challenges with an open mind. Besides, they will be able to inspire that same willingness to adapt in those around them.
A good leader differs from an ordinary boss since they have the ability to present his ideas in a way that the people get their conviction. They can be sure that what is presented by the leader is the way forward.
While a common boss only gives orders and usually imposes their way of doing things without caring about the opinion of his subordinates.
8. Responsibility and reliability, characteristics of a great leader
One of the most important qualities a leader can have is a sense of responsibility and trust. This means displaying those traits in your individual work, but also demonstrating them in your interactions with others. Your team members need to know that they can depend on you to take their fair share of the job and get it done. They have to know you support them through tough times, and help them meet every goal.
The level of commitment a leader has to their organization will be key in evaluating the success of his leadership. A committed leader will do everything they can to transmit that level of dedication to each of the members of his team. Thus, ensuring that each of them work together with a single objective, to achieve all the goals.
9. Patience and tenacity
A good leader knows how to have a long-term vision, be it of a strategy, a situation, or a goal. Being able to tackle any obstacle along the way and persevere without getting frustrated or defeated is key: From small projects to corporate vision, patience is an essential trait for strong leadership.
10. Continuous improvement, characteristics of a great leader
True leaders know that perfection is a myth: there is always room for improvement at all levels, from the staff to the team to the organization as a whole. They will always be willing to help team members find ways to develop new skills or improve a weakness. They will be able to identify and implement strategies to help the organization as a whole grow and, perhaps most importantly, be able to look inward. Identify the areas you would like to work on and then act on them.
How to develop leadership skills and be a great leader
Even the youngest members of a team can learn to be a good leader. That is, if they are using their talents to motivate and help their teams move forward and ultimately achieve their goals. Generally, one can lead in many contexts beyond the workplace, in whatever community one might be involved with. For example, a religious community, a volunteer community, or a neighborhood community. Even if your sphere of influence is relatively small, you can play a big role in driving your organization to success.
Leadership does not belong to those at the top. Similarly, it does not apply only to people who have what we would commonly consider leadership qualities (an outgoing personality, for example). It is also important to note that while we often refer to leadership as a singular skill, in reality, it is a set of skills.
In fact, most of them can be developed through experience and training. Besides, these skills are influenced uniquely by the personality and background of an individual. Think about your own experience. Every you’ve had throughout your life likely represented different leadership styles. However, most of them probably had a similar set of good leadership qualities that they relied on to be successful.
Fortunately, unlike some technical or highly specialized skills, leadership is a competency that can be accessible to anyone. It doesn’t matter where they are. Similarly, anyone can develop leadership skills, be it through formal training or simply through self-management, education, and practice at work.
For example, if you are a relatively young member of your organization, you may want to analyze the leadership qualities listed above and assess how you are doing on each one. Maybe you recognize some of them as traits you possess, and maybe there are others you could work on to develop them.
That could mean practicing active listening during meetings with coworkers, being proactive in bringing new ideas to your team or asking a colleague or manager for help in developing one of your weakest areas.
Maybe you are looking to be considered for a promotion or job change to a higher level position. Or, you might already be in a managerial position and looking to hone your leadership skills to be as successful as possible. If that’s the case, you may want to consider a more formal education or training in leadership.
There are many programs, from short-term leadership seminars to full degree programs. These can help you become a visionary and transformational leader and experience greater professional success. Obviously, the longer and deeper a program is, the more in-depth the education it offers.
A master’s program in leadership can be an excellent option for mid-to-senior-level professionals. Today, there are many fully accredited institutions offering this degree both on-campus and online. So, it can be an advantage for students who must juggle a full-time job, family commitments, and their education.
How to recognize a leader?
Leaders are extremely easy to recognize, especially in the workplace. There are certain characteristics that define and identify them. Here, we list them so that you know them:
Take control of any positive or negative event within the company. The difference is that you know how to act, what to say, and what to avoid. You know how to seize opportunities and take risks when necessary to achieve your goals. And if you don’t find a solution, look for alternatives.
2. Trustworthy, characteristics of a great leader
A good leader inspires confidence, that’s why many people follow them and take them as an example. People know they can trust their directions to be correct. Leaders not only have a confident attitude, they also keep their promises. They are persons of integrity that people take into account by choice, not obligation.
3. Listen to their teams
A good leader, in addition to being an excellent listener, considers all members of his team before making any relevant decisions. This shows respect and avoids hurting someone else with your actions. When it comes to looking for alternatives or new strategies, listen to the opinions of others, knowing that gathering the best ideas can lead to greater results than you expect.
4. Clear communication, characteristics of a great leader
Many times people can have a very clear instruction in their head. However, communicating it to others and having it understood without complications can be difficult. Leaders have many communication skills and know how to get a message across in a way that everyone understands.
All good leaders know what their goals are and see themselves achieving them. If a leader does not know where he wants to go, he will not be able to cross the finish line. A good leader does not leave his plan of action half-way, but looks for all possible alternatives to achieve it.
Tips to become the leader you want to be
There’s a particular thing you should learn first when you want to become a good leader. That is, unlike what many people say, great leaders are not born, but are formed over time and experience.
We have probably all ever met a person who, innately and effortlessly is followed, heard and respected by the people around them. How do they do it? They are beings that have a natural charisma and the spirit of a leader.
A difficult question that many have tried to answer in countless articles and wise studies on leadership. I just want to offer you a practical compilation so that your team follows you without hesitation and feels proud to have you as a manager.
In a very summarized way, you could say that a leader is a person who can lead a group to achieve a goal. He is the one who knows how to start the group and manages to influence others.
In this sense, to become a leader, people can put into practice some of these tips:
1. Listen to your work team, characteristics of a great leader
To learn how to be a good leader you must listen to criticism and bad comments, these must become a source of personal growth for your life.
2. Communicate as efficiently as possible
Make sure to be clear about what your expectations and feelings are. Do so on good terms and on an ongoing basis.
3. Talk less, listen more, characteristics of a great leader
Sometimes it is better to say nothing than to say anything simply to comply. Sometimes you need to keep quiet so that other people have room to talk.
4. Be an example
Become the person you want your team members to be. There is no better example than your own actions.
5. Be passionate, characteristics of a great leader
If you are not passionate about the business you are in, you are surely in the wrong place. You can’t learn how to be a good leader in a job that doesn’t inspire you to improve every day, in something that you don’t enjoy.
6. Be consistent
To go from follower to leader there must be congruence between what you say, do and think. Otherwise, people will not be able to trust you.
7. Make firm decisions, characteristics of a great leader
Don’t let a decision drag on for long, and once you make it, don’t ramble on about your decision.
8. Interfere only when necessary
If you trust your team to do a good job, don’t interfere in their affairs and processes unless you deem it necessary.
It is important that they have the freedom to make decisions, and in case of making a mistake, that they correct it if you are present.
9. Identify your strengths, characteristics of a great leader
To learn how to be a good leader, you must contribute to your team by contributing your strengths.
10. Know your weaknesses
Learning how to be a good leader requires that you focus on your strengths, and learn to delegate those activities that your weaknesses demand.
11. Accept the uncertainty, characteristics of a great leader
It’s time for you to admit that you can’t control all the factors around your business and work teams. The best way to deal with uncertainty lies in the power of your mind.
12. To be a good leader, first be a good person
If you think about it, learning how to be a good leader is nothing more than an extension of the good person you are. Commit to being a good person, with integrity, with values and principles.
13. Keep in touch with your emotions, characteristics of a great leader
Stop being a robot that seems to feel nothing and allows your emotions to come out. Emotional intelligence is about understanding your emotions, not avoiding them.
14. Control your reactions
This is in line with the previous point; When you do not know your emotions, and you make decisions based on reactions and not rational conclusions, you will tend to be wrong.
So pause your reactions until you have a moment to analyze your feelings, clarify your ideas, and then make a decision.
15. Overcome mistakes; yours and that of others
Everyone makes mistakes, including you. What matters is to learn the lesson of the mistake made, draw valuable conclusions and overcome it. There is no need to create a huge problem because of someone else’s slight mistake.
In the end, after all the experiences, difficulties and efforts, you will end up learning how to be a good leader. There will be errors, difficulties and moments when you will not know what to do. But these types of situations are the ones that will make you grow as a person, and as a professional.