There isn’t one definitively correct way to lead a team. However, there are some characteristics every good leader must possess and use. Of course, you don’t have to be born as a leader to become one, and you can learn all the vital traits along the way. But you’ll have to work on your leadership skills a lot if you want to get there.
Now, it’s clear that bad leadership will cost companies a lot, no matter if they’re big or small. If you don’t know how to manage your team, they won’t be motivated. So, they’ll be less productive, less profitable, and more likely to make mistakes or even quit.
On the other hand, good leadership is a part of the recipe for team productivity. If you have it, you can keep your employees on board, please your customers, and set your company’s proverbial sails for success. And if you want to become that person, here are the features you’ll need to have.
1. Ability to Influence Others
To become a leader, first, you must be self-aware. You must know who you are to be more adaptive, resilient, and accepting of the feedback you get. You have to learn to listen and understand what people tell you. Only when you master that part can you influence people, which is what leadership is all about.
If you’re at the start of your career, exercise your authority by being the go-to person for a particular subject in your company. Spend your time listening to your team and work on building a consensus. As you grow as a leader, you’ll be able to steer the company in the direction you think it should go.
Remember — you need your colleagues to trust you if you want to influence them. So try to understand what drives them and encourage them to share their opinions. Then, use what you’ve learned to make a change and show that you care about them.
You can only influence your employees if they trust you.
2. Transparency, But Not All The Way
To build the trust I just talked about, you must be transparent. By being honest about the goals of the company and the challenges you’re facing, you’ll help your employees understand their role in all of it and find a way to help. You’ll show them how valuable they are to the team, giving them purpose and making them more engaged.
For example, an office move is a great scenario to exercise your leadership skills. Talk to your employees, tell them why you need to move, and do your best to help them during the process. Don’t try to hide anything from them, and let them get involved if they want.
However, keep in mind that insisting on transparency too much could make your employees feel exposed and vulnerable. So don’t push it too far and find a way to balance transparency with privacy. To encourage collaboration and experimentation, you want your team to feel comfortable.
3. Encourage Experimentation and Risk-Taking
To make sure your company has the edge over its competitors, you must keep experimenting. Thus, encouraging risk-taking and innovation is one of the characteristics every good leader must possess.
Create a culture that embraces failure, and your employees won’t be worried about letting you down. Show them that you respect and value their creativity, and they’ll happily test their theories and share their ideas with the team. And you want that to happen.
There are a few ways to get people to experiment, but the best way to do it is to reward it. Give out bonuses to the people who suggested interesting ideas even if they turned out to be a fail. Breakthroughs don’t happen if you play it safe, and if you think them through, even failures can be great business lessons.
One of the main characteristics every good leader must possess is encouraging your employees to take risks.
4. Work on Ethics and Integrity
If you go around your company and ask employees what they think the most critical attribute of a leader is, most of them will tell you that it’s integrity. And if you dive further into it, you’ll learn that many of them also respect high moral standards. So, these are the two things you want to focus on.
If you promote corporate ethics and morality, people will know that you’re committed to fairness. They’ll see that you want to honor the rules of the game, so they’ll do it as well. On top of that, if you’re clear about what you expect from them, you’ll ensure that you’re all on the same page.
Employees want to feel safe at work, and they want to know that their superior will advocate for them, treat them fairly, and do what’s right for the company. As a leader, you want to set an example for others, so work on your integrity.
5. Be Decisive
Today’s world is changing fast, and in the business environment as complex as we have, leaders need to be able to make strategic decisions quickly. So, you need to step in when the situation is tricky and take the risk upon your shoulders. You must be aware that if things don’t work out, you’ll be the one held accountable, and you must be okay with it.
Don’t try to put it off for too long and spend too much time searching for a consensus. If you aren’t decisive, the chances are that you’re ineffective, and that’s the last thing you want.
So, make a decision, and stick to it. Of course, if a compelling reason to shift focus comes up, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it. But if there’s no change in the scenery, don’t question your decisions.
As a leader, you must make decisions and stick to them.
6. Mix Hard Truths with Optimism
Not every decision you make will end up in success. Sometimes, you’ll do the wrong thing, and you’ll fail, but it’s your job as a leader to show resilience at this point.
You must endure all the setbacks and focus on your goals in hard times if you want to succeed. If your team feels down because of it, you need to encourage teamwork and innovative thinking. Show dedication to get them out of the hole, and don’t avoid the hard truths.
Instead, take responsibility for your decisions, keep the optimism high, and focus on the next steps you’ll need to take. You’ll help others cope with the change and motivate them to push on through. This way of thinking and working is one of the vital characteristics every good leader must possess, and if you want to become a good leader, you have to get yourself to that level.