What makes a good leader? Certain traits and skills stand out
Everyone has their ideas of what constitutess a good leader. Whole books are written on this topic. An earlier blog column offered some suggestions on how to be a good manager. Here are five more tips to help you become a good leader.
1. Stay sharp. Professional development includes courses and workshops on the intricacies of managing. Workplace dynamics have changed. More workers are demanding flex time shifts, telecommuting options, and so forth. Those changes can affect employee relationships and morale. Your leadership techniques must adapt to these changes. Personalized coaching sessions may be of value, too.
2. Be firm. The overarching goal is to ensure the strength and vitality of the organization. Some employees or teammates may feel their way is better. Explain why a particular course of action is necessary, and make your decision. When possible, use suggestions from staff. They feel more like a part of the process. But in the end, it’s your organization. Stand firm on policies and procedures.
3. Act quickly. One really good trait of a leader is someone who decides and acts quickly. Of course, you try to ensure it is the right decision; everyone hates to make mistakes. Don’t get caught up in paralysis by analysis. Make a decision, and move on.
4. Set expectations, and help others achieve them. Continue to stretch your team by setting new goals. Help them grow through new responsibilities and training. Encourage your staff to attend seminars, buy books and CDs, and other materials. Their professional development, which is just as important as yours, is an ongoing process. That process is enhanced with the proper guidance from you, their leader.
5. Bury the ego. Ditto for any dictitorial attitude. Nobody likes to see either. One of the qualities of a leader is someone who relishes helping others succeed. Competition? For what, your job? More likely, the person will move on to greener pastures. Like a pro sports coach, you can bask in the glory of having groomed a successful businessperson.
You won’t accomplish anything by being a task master. At some point people start to leave. Learn how to properly offer instructions, mete out discipline and otherwise run your organization.
Leadership requires the right balance of skills and traits. Persuasion, discipline, compassion, humility, confidence–even a good sense of humor–combine to define what makes a good leader.
For related reading, see “Stay in touch with teammates to keep them on your team” and “How to be an MLM leader.”
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10 thoughts on “5 traits of a good leader”
One of my former managers could be a real hard ass at times. Even bark at us over some issue. “I had to learn this one day, so you can too!” was one reply. You have to know how to convey your instructions (not always her strongest suit), as well as how to coach people.
On the other hand, I’ve had managers who would calmly cover the material and help staffers learn it. It doesn’t take a Phd to know which was the more conducive environment for learning and growing. (And which person I preferred working for.) Thanks for the visit and comment, Sherman.
Thanks, Sigrid. Much of that–and the accompanying columns–comes from experiences as a junior employee. I know what I like to see in a manager/leader. So, why not offer that as advice for managers today?
Some people like to crack the whip, Ryan. Fortunately, those folks are decreasing in number. I sense more of a team spirit in the business world today. There’s a realization that we need to work together. Plus, managers (and especially sales managers know that a productive team makes them look all that much better. Thanks for the visit.
The point came from one of Donald Trump’s books. (I couldn’t find the passage, or I would’ve included it.) Trump talks about quickly making a decision, then moving on. Sure, you might have to amend it or choose a different route. But make a decision. Don’t waffle. Thanks for the comment, Eric.
Thanks, Nate. In my early days of sales I found goals to be more a distraction than a help. Probably because a number of colleagues were doing so well. Over time I came to realize that we need “end zones” to aim for. We need to keep stretching ourselves, and our leaders should be helping us.
Great list of traits and Number 5 really sticks out. I met a couple of people who confuse the idea of being a tyrant for being a good leader. This is more like a slave/master relationship than an actual team relationship. As a leader, you want to be able to lead and not force. Once you’re able to do this, then you’ll have more respect from your team and a lot less turn over. Thanks for sharing Tom!
Tom, this is an excellent post. You have given us some very good tips to follow and live up to as leaders.
Burying ego is smart advice Tom! Come from a more caring space, be humble and you will grow into a leader. Thanks!
Leaders and successful people make quick decisions and are slow to change them vs. unsuccessful people who make slow decisions and are quick to change them… #3 is on point… great post… thanks brother!
#4 – This one resonates with me. I’m a big advocate of setting early expectations for the new people in my group. Anything that helps them develop and allows them to work on their mindset, I’m all for it. Great post Tom!