In LXCouncil peer advisory group meetings, we cover a wide variety of topics. One area that we focus a great deal of energy on is leadership. Being a good leader is essential for CEOs, business owners, and other key personnel in your company. Today, we wanted to go back to basics and present some ideas on the most essential traits a good leader possesses. Obviously, this is not an all-inclusive list, but if you don’t exhibit the traits below, you may struggle with your own confidence, your company may not be growing the way you want it to, and you may find yourself becoming irrelevant in the role.
Here’s our 5 list of essential leadership traits:
This term is used frequently when discussing leadership. There is a reason why it tops our list. Without integrity, you will find it to be a struggle to be an effective leader. As leader, you are being watched 24/7 by everyone around you. If your integrity falters, it can take many years (that’s right, years) to regain credibility in the eyes of those around you.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I always do what I say I will do? Or, am I finding reasons to skip commitments?
- Do I always follow what our company culture or policies say our employees must do? Or, do I think, “I’m the boss” and the rules apply loosely to me.
- Do I act and talk the same way to others when I’m in a social environment or events? Or, do I have a “work” persona, and a “social” persona?
- Do I treat everyone with respect and equality? Or, do I treat my lower level employees differently than management?
Empathy is a trait that is often not thought about with leadership, but it’s critical. Communicating empathy with your team members can build a trusting bond, and it can secure loyalty at the same time. Studies show that men have a harder time with empathy than woman.
- When you deal with people, do you ask how their day is going?
- Are you truly present when talking with team members?
- Do you check in with people who are going through difficulties?
- Do you really listen and have good body language when speaking with others?
Almost everyone has worked for a leader that had difficulties making decisions. They were either likely paralyzed by not having enough (or too much) information to decide, or they were careerists who tried to avoid making decisions that could hurt their career path. Either type can present significant challenges for a company.
- Can you make decisions based upon the information available? Leaders will often find that they need more information, but the decision is needed now.
- Do you make decisions that are in line with company goals, values, and mission?
- Can you make decisions even in the face of opposition or objections?
- Can you make good decisions in bad or stressful times?
Good leaders need to have their ideas, guidance, and decisions clearly and accurately understood. Leaders also need to be able to communicate effectively across multiple spectrums and variety of mediums. If your information is being filtered or altered as it passes down the line, you can find yourself in misunderstood, causing unnecessary challenges in the business.
- How are your public speaking skills? Can you speak in formal and extempore settings?
- Do you write in active, engaging language? Written skills make a huge difference.
- Are you comfortable on social media? Social media communication skills are a must.
- Do you get out of your office to talk with your team? Face to face will always trump a phone call or email.
- Do you have a good team of people to help craft your company messages to your team, clients, and partners?
Being passionate about what you do will set you apart as a leader. If you demonstrate or model a lack of passion, those around you will know immediately. If you aren’t excited about what you do, then it may be time to look for something else to do. Think about leaders you have served under who weren’t passionate about their job…not fun!
- Are you a cheerleader for your mission and for the team fulfilling the mission?
- Even when you have a bad day, can you demonstrate your passion to others?
- Do you think your passion is contagious?
- Are there times that you have difficulty showing your passion?
The full list of traits of great leaders is much, much longer, but we think these 5 are critical to the success of a leader. Vision, team builder, conflict management, collaboration, innovation and others are very important as well. Let us know what other leadership traits YOU think are essential!
Do you have a strategy to hone and refine YOUR leadership skills? The best leaders know that to remain relevant to clients, employees, and the marketplace, a strategy and continuous growth is essential. This is what we do at LXCouncil! If you want to be proactive in your growth, strategic in your development, and at the forefront of best practices in business, it may be worth a conversation! Schedule a call today!
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