These days, being a good leader is more than having good grades and a stellar CV. If you’re thinking about what it takes to be a good leader, companies today are looking for leaders that believe in collaboration and aren’t afraid to show empathy.
Why The Shift?
Organizations in the past hired CEOs based on numbers. How many advanced degrees do they have? How many years have they been in the industry? What was the bottom line of their previous company under their leadership?
Organizations wanted go-getters. A type of personality that was aggressive. They deemed people with these traits ideal for improving their bottom line.
The focus has since changed to the character of the candidate. While numbers are still important, organizations are now seeking leaders that also express traits such as humility, empathy and inclusivity. This shift is mainly a result of the changing dynamics of the workforce.
The arrival of the millennial generation in the workforce has seen a great shift in how organizations view leadership. According to a recent survey, this generation rated humility as one of the most important characteristics in a leader. They are more likely to perform better with a leader that seeks to connect with them on a more human level.
Another factor is the changing view of employees. In the past, aggressive CEOs were deemed successful. They relied on intimidation and fear to drive their workforce. However, these tactics won’t work with the modern employee. People are put off by arrogance and aggression. Even if such tactics prove feasible, they’ll only last short term.
Companies are looking for leaders that can inspire loyalty in their workforce. Sustainable motivation is possible through humility, empathy and a willingness to listen and work with a team. Good leaders in today’s marketplace should be able to operate not just with the mind but also the heart.
What Makes A Good Leader Today?
To identify the traits of a good leader, organizations must first understand what a leader is. Author John C. Maxwell defines a leader as ‘someone that knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.’
Being a leader is about much more than the level of seniority a person holds or their title in a company. A good leader is someone who is able to translate a vision into reality. They are those who are able to influence and empower others.
So what qualities define a good leader in today’s marketplace?
1. Honesty And Integrity
These are the most important traits of a good leader. They can’t expect their team to uphold the truth if they’re not honest themselves. Successful leaders stay true to their core beliefs and values even when the easier option would be to cut some corners.
A leader’s lack of integrity can be difficult for a company to recover from. Once the trust is lost, it may be impossible to get it back.
2. Sincere Enthusiasm
Great leaders are passionate and committed to what they are doing. Enthusiasm for products, services or the company mission is something that you can’t fake. Sincere passion for what you do actually is contagious. It is easier to influence team members and get them motivated to perform better if they sincerely believe in what they’re saying and doing.
If they don’t feel a sincere passion towards their mission, they will find it difficult to motivate their team for the long term. This will show, especially when things get tough.
3. A Good Communicator
Leaders must be able to instruct, discipline and motivate their team. This is only possible with good communication. A good leader must be able to communicate their vision, strategy and goals clearly to the team. The team will otherwise remain without clear direction and will not be able to achieve much.
Words have great power. They can help leaders get better results. Communication skills are therefore essential for good leadership.
Good leaders should be able to make decisions and hold themselves accountable for the results. Ideally, decisions should be made based on adequate background information. However, this isn’t always possible. Leaders should be willing to take the risk to make a decision and stand by it.
An indecisive leader is also an ineffective one. While some decisions require a consensus from other executives and managers, some instances call for leaders to make a decision. Getting a consensus from all stakeholders may not be always be possible or feasible.
5. Seeks To Empower Others
Being a leader isn’t about being able to do everything by themselves. They may not be able to give the company their best if they seek to do everything by themselves. It is important for leaders to identify their key responsibilities and focus on these. They should delegate other tasks to other employees.
Delegation helps to empower subordinates. It shows them that their leader trusts them to do a good job and may motivate them to perform even better at their primary tasks.
Many leaders tend to follow a dictatorial style of leadership. They believe in intimidating employees into producing better results. However, this only serves to instill fear in employees. Many will perform tasks simply because they are afraid while others will opt to leave the company in search for better working environments.
Empathy will go much further with your workforce than fear. A good leader seeks to understand the problems their workforce is facing and step in to provide sustainable solutions.
Employees will be motivated to give the company their best when they know that the company will look out for their best interests too. This also serves to increase loyalty and therefore reduce turnover.
Good leaders should be visionary. They should be able to provide creative solutions to problems. However, it is not enough to be able to think out of the box. Good leaders should also be able to bring their visions to life. They should be able to turn their ideas and goals into actionable strategies that can be implemented for the success of the company.
This, in turn, will inspire their team to think out of the box.
A good leader should be confident. If you are unsure about a decision you make, your subordinates are not likely to follow through. Confidence is contagious. It can help to cover up many wrongs.
However, leaders should be careful not to go overboard. Overconfident leaders are likely to step on their subordinates toes. These types of leaders do not inspire trust or loyalty in their subordinates. They in fact do the opposite.
Being a good leader is always easier said than done. However, as long as you work towards having the qualities listed above, you’ll be more or less set. More importantly, always remember that a good leader isn’t just someone who delegates work to others and tells them what to do. A good leader is someone who shows you how things are done.