“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
Dianne had always felt like more of a wallflower than a leader. However, she had mastered her current role in her publishing company and really wanted to get promoted to a higher-level position.
To get there, she knew she had to focus on growing her leadership skills. She began working with an executive coach who gave her weekly exercises to do in order to hone those abilities. Within a couple of months, her boss had remarked about her growing leadership competencies and suggested she might be a prime candidate for a directorial position one day.
What do great leaders do? They instill feelings of confidence and motivate their workers. Many people struggle to understand how they can achieve the same results.
Here’s the good news: If you have the motivation, you absolutely can master the necessary skills to become a star leader.
Some people are born with an inherent ability to get others to follow them. However, charisma isn’t the only trait of a great leader. A lot of the personality traits that make for highly effective leaders are built on a solid foundation of emotional maturity and drive.
Here are the most essential traits that great leaders have. If you want to aspire toward a career in leadership, work toward building and developing these characteristics.
- Great leaders have Integrity.
Leaders’ honesty and ability to follow a set of ethics in all of their work affects their ability to influence their followers. Demonstrate your integrity by keeping your word and showing that the human element of what you do matters more than anything else. Set and maintain strong corporate responsibility guidelines, if you’re in a position to make such decisions. Your employees will be proud to work at a firm that takes social responsibility seriously.
- Great leaders have Intelligence.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but great leaders should be able to think critically and solve problems. Emotional intelligence is an important trait, too. Great leaders get results by working effectively with others and building strong relationships with the people they supervise. Keep an open mind when it comes to problem-solving. Seeking a range of input will increase the overall intelligence you have to work with.
- Great leaders have high energy.
Leadership requires enormous drive, hard work, good stress-management skills, and enthusiasm. Find ways to recharge during your downtime and destress your life, so you can maintain the optimistic outlook and drive it takes to succeed as a leader.
- Great leaders bring stability.
Being in control of emotions that are disruptive to others is another critical component of being a great leader. Find a relaxation technique that helps you maintain calm within the storm when difficult situations arise. If you tend to get anxious or angry easily, make a habit of not responding immediately to emails or phone calls that spark those emotions. Take a few moments to re-center first.
- Great leaders have high standards.
Great leaders set high professional standards for themselves as well as their employees. They remind themselves of the standards they want to meet and the image they want to create on a daily basis. The needs of the organization and its employees are their top priority. In many ways, a great leader is self-sacrificing. They’re willing to have tough conversations and take on demanding work for the sake of the greater good.
- Great leaders have a strong inner voice.
Using gut instincts and reasoning, great leaders are able to quickly assimilate information and arrive at a conclusion. They trust their intuition and allow it to guide their decisions. While they often seek additional input, they’re not usually starting at square one.
- Great leaders are confident in their decisions.
Great leaders know that the choices they make are the best ones, and they don’t hesitate to make tough decisions, even if that means having to fire someone. They can confidently explain the rationale behind their choices, maintaining transparency. They are also capable of mitigating damage in the event of a bad choice, knowing they’re not infallible.
- Great leaders invest in their own growth.
By keeping abreast of new developments in leadership methods, great leaders can ensure that they will continue to serve as a valuable resource to their company. They strive to read up on new techniques and approaches, and to brush up on them with leadership skills trainings.
Knowing what makes a boss or leader great is not enough. You must also take steps to put your knowledge into action. For instance, you can grow your confidence by building a support team and challenging yourself to take smaller risks. If you’re an aspiring leader, take a few minutes right now to list the steps you will take this week to become a stronger leader. Or, if you’re a manager working to grow your people’s leadership qualities, prompt them to list those steps for themselves.
As an executive coach, Joel Garfinkle is an expert at helping promising employees develop leadership qualities. Contact him to learn more about his executive coaching services.