“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
What’s the number one skill every leader needs to have? The ability to be a great coach to others, according to a 2018 Gallup survey. That allows them to get more from their people, helping them each to reach their highest potential and become leaders in turn.
Now, we’re going to delve into what makes a great leader. Work to model the top qualities of a leader, and you’ll see your whole team reach greater heights.
To mentor people effectively, you need to create trust with them. Make sure they feel comfortable coming to you with questions and speaking to you about concerns or challenges they are facing. At the same time, you need to feel comfortable being direct with them about their performance rather than sugar-coating feedback. That straightforwardness will help them to trust your judgment and have trust in you as a leader. Give frequent and honest feedback in a supportive manner, and they’ll feel comfortable speaking with you about their progress.
2. Interest in people’s lives and wellbeing.
Learn about your employees’ lives. One of the most important qualities of a top leader is the ability to show people that you genuinely care about them. Make sure you are asking questions, listening, and remembering what is important to your employees. For example, know the names and ages of their children and ask how they’re doing from time to time. Learn about your employees’ important hobbies, showing your interest in what they do for fun outside of work. For instance, if an employee is training to run a marathon, ask how their practice is going. Tell them about your own hobbies in turn. Getting to know them as people, not just as workers or subordinates, helps you find common ground and build a strong rapport. In turn, they’ll have a more well-rounded picture of who you are.
3. Ability to develop talent.
Spend time coaching your people, focusing on their development. Take each one of your people on your team and evaluate them from 1–10 (10 being the highest rating) in two areas: (1) past performance and (2) future potential. Then, ask yourself what each of them needs to do to move the “future potential” number upward. By doing this, you’ll create a list of areas for growth and development to help them move to the next level.
Discuss these strengths and areas for growth in your one-on-one check-ins and performance reviews, describing the specific behaviors they could change and the ones they excel in. Describe what success in a given area for improvement would look like, and help them set priorities for their development. That way, they’ll have a clear picture of the steps they can take to improve.
4. A contagious enthusiasm for the company’s vision and mission.
Great managers have an uncanny ability to inspire their people by igniting a conviction in their company’s vision and mission, as Gallup points out in “Why Great Managers Are So Rare.” They know how to articulate the vision and mission so that everyone can understand them. Then, they show each employee how they play an integral role in fulfilling the core vision and mission. They can also articulate how improvements in specific areas will contribute more to the vision and mission. As a result, everyone feels motivated to give their all.
5. A commitment to accountability and fairness.
The best managers prioritize creating a culture of fairness, which means ensuring accountability. They take accountability for their own mistakes, encouraging others to do the same. In doing so, they allow others to see their process of considering what they could have done better and taking the necessary steps toward improvement. They don’t shy away from the tough conversations that lead to positive changes in behavior and company culture. As a result, people respect them and want to emulate their actions. Employees also value how they work to implement a culture of fairness that opens opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background.
Master the top qualities of great leaders described here, and you’ll stand out to the people who make decisions about promotions. When they discuss succession plans and who to appoint to positions with a higher degree of responsibility, you can bet your name will come up. And remember, you can lead from wherever you’re at—whether you’re in a high-level leadership position or not, start implementing these strategies today and see your career blossom.
Are you looking to take your leadership skills to the next level? Joel has helped hundreds of clients to step into their full leadership potential. Contact him to discuss how he can guide you to the next level of success.