All ambitious professionals wish, at the right point in their career, to take on the responsibilities and challenges of a leadership role – whether this is at the team level, function level or organisation wide level. So what are the top characteristics of a successful leader?
Great Leaders don’t create Followers, they create more Leaders!
As a leader you are personally responsible for driving the success of a business. That’s why top class businesses, 99% of the time, have great leadership!
A company’s success is often heavily aligned to the abilities and strengths of its leaders. Therefore, poor leadership leads to low staff morale, lack of innovation, weak response to market conditions, or even worse, bad decision making.
So, when put in a leadership role, it is important to be aware of the key aspects that are needed for successful leadership, the characteristics that a leader should demonstrate each and every day.
As Executive Headhunters, our Clients require us to find them Great Leaders. We deal with senior level professionals on a daily basis, each one possessing their own personality, strengths and weaknesses.
What we have noticed, is that the strongest and most successful leaders typically demonstrate the following characteristics:
1. Learn from past mistakes
An Executive Leader must have the ability to learn from their past experiences, which act as lessons for the future.
Leaders are only human, mistakes will happen. However, it is important that a leader learns from those mistakes, to prevent them from happening again.
For example, if a business loses key staff due to their desire for career growth. A good leader would learn what those high potential executives need to stay motivated. They would build a plan based on what went wrong the first time.
2. Demonstrate great communication skills
Undoubtedly, as a leader you need great communication skills. This is arguably the most essential skill.
Communication is key in all business setting’s, both external and internal. As someone in charge, a leader must communicate effectively to grow the business and boost staff moral when necessary.
Leaders must motivate their team to complete projects in a timely manner, communicate what they need, from whom and when they need it completed by and how things should be done.
Great executives are transparent and balanced in their communication style. They are able to effectively translate their views using clear language that is easy to understand.
3. Possess strong relationship skills
A leader must have the ability to build strong relationships with both external and internal parties.
Solid relationships create loyalty, stability and build the brand image for the company.
Positive relationships also create great word-of-mouth, and while your business may not rely solely on that type of marketing, it’s always a plus.
4. Are optimistic but realistic
It is important for a leader to be confident, this helps maintain team morale and motivation.
But at the same time it is essential to not be arrogant.
A leader should remain aware of and confront challenges while still striving to reach ambitious goals.
5. Have a strong ability to understand people
A leader must be understanding of matters in and out of the workplace.
For example, employees are people with lives outside of their work, and if there’s an emergency, a leader should be understanding and let the employee handle it.
The risk of making mistakes is far greater if an employee is working but focused on other things. A leader must also understand that things sometimes happen that are out of anyone’s control.
For example, in sales sometimes a customer can suddenly change their mind. A leader must understand and accept the situation and handle things accordingly and in a fair manner.
6. Have well developed listening skills
Many studies have shown that top leaders are those that are able to listen to others, actively seek out ideas and opinions from their team.
A leader is only human and can not think of everything. Embracing ideas and thoughts from others helps to create a balanced and far reaching awareness.
Good leaders incorporate other peoples views into their plans to solve organizational problems.
When a leader can listen and seek the ideas of trusted individuals, the team and company is more likely to be successful.
7. Are willing to take calculated risks when appropriate
Great and sometimes unforeseen opportunities often come from taking risks.
Taking smart, well thought through calculated risks shows confidence and helps you to grow as a business leader. Often risky decisions may take you on a new, important path.
Success won’t be handed to you on a plate. Embracing smart risk also helps you to overcome the fear of failing.
8. Can adapt and edit their management style
One of the greatest traits of a successful leader is his or her ability to read people and their personality and to Adapt their management style accordingly.
Not every team member has the same learning style and if you want the company and employees to succeed, it is important to also be able to adapt to the needs of your employees.
9. Able to mentor employees effectively
As a leader you have a team of people that look up to you and seek your guidance and direction.
Your job is to create a healthy and collaborative work environment.
People working together as a team, versus individually, is far more effective in terms of business development.
As a leader you also have the responsibility to prepare the next generation of the company, to teach and train in a way that inspires your staff to grow and succeed.
10. Think outside the box
The marketplace is changing continually, things are never “always the same”.
As a leader it is essential to Think Outside The Box because sometimes there are better ways to achieve business goals.
Sometimes, just “doing the same” becomes outdated and loses its effectiveness.
When a leader thinks outside the box, listens to great ideas from team members, assesses risk and makes balanced calculated decisions, it helps them and their company to stand out and to out-perform rivals.
While you are here, please check this Article which provides further information about what makes a Business Leader truly Great!
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