Leadership can be defined as one’s ability to get others to willingly follow. Every organization needs leaders at every level. Leaders can be found and nurtured if you look for the following character traits.
A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it’s not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co., said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in terms that cause followers to buy into it. He or she must communicate clearly and passionately, as passion is contagious.
A good leader must have the discipline to work toward his or her vision single-mindedly, as well as to direct his or her actions and those of the team toward the goal. Action is the mark of a leader. A leader does not suffer “analysis paralysis” but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others to do the same.
There are some companies and organizations that do better than others simply because all of the individual team members work together and have better skill sets than other teams. Although a team may consist of highly capable and talented members, they still have to make sure their actions are aligned with the leader’s vision. This means that things can have a negative or positive outcome depending on the person’s management and leadership capabilities. Effective leadership is necessary in making sure that the skills of every team member are utilized correctly. If you are wondering if your leadership is heading the right direction, look for these signs of effective leadership.
Good Leadership Qualities
Leading By Example: If you are leading a new group, you can get a loyal following quick if you show to the group that you have the necessary leadership skills to overcome challenges. If you were assigned to lead the right group, those members should have those skills as well. You just have to make them feel more confident in executing. Once they see that your actions lead to better results, you can bet that your team members will try to emulate you and that is a good thing if you want to encourage these members to be leaders themselves one day.
Good Communication Skills: Consistency is very important for effective leadership. Your members need to see that you are always around when assistance is needed. As long as you continuously keep in touch with your members, these people will see that you are really serious in fulfilling the group’s objective. It will also keep them more motivated in overcoming more difficult obstacles. If you observe other successful companies, they are showing similar signs of effective leadership. You do not have to copy the same approaches since your business model could be different but you should keep the team building intact combined with good decision making.
Integrity: is the integration of outward actions and inner values. A person of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might be expeditious to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity. Honest dealings, predictable reactions, well-controlled emotions, and an absence of tantrums and harsh outbursts are all signs of integrity. A leader who is centered in integrity will be more approachable by followers.
Dedication: means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By setting an excellent example, leaders can show followers that there are no nine-to-five jobs on the team, only opportunities to achieve something great.
The leadership qualities that are required to make a good leader can vary in different companies, teams and situations. They are context-dependent.
This can be illustrated in both modern leadership models and art. For example, the fact that leadership qualities are dependent on context is demonstrated in the play The Admirable Crichton and the film Twelve O’Clock High – the latter having been used on leadership training courses for more than half a century.
In “The Admirable Crichton”, written in 1902, the Lord and butler swap their roles as leader and servant as the situation changes. On a desert island, the butler’s practical skills are essential for survival, whereas the Lord’s knowledge of English politics is of no value.
In the film “Twelve O’Clock High”, produced in 1949, as a squadron starts to suffer increasing losses during the war, the leader’s people-oriented approach starts to fail. He is replaced by a dictatorial bully who turns the squadron round and restores their pride (in a modern setting, such leadership behavior would often be regarded as unacceptable).
In theory, the ideal scenario is for a leader to have infinite flexibility. That means you are able to adapt your leadership style according to the situation and/or the state of the team – eg: to be an executive leader when a team is Forming but to be a participative leader when a team is Performing (the different leadership styles for different situations are described on our leadership styles page).
This need to change one’s leadership style according to the circumstances is one of the fundamental principles underlying popular models such as Situational Leadership (develop by Blanchard and Hersey in the late 1960s).
However, modern leadership theory has begun to realise that the perfect, flexible leader does not exist. Everyone has strengths and weakness, and there is a need to strike a balance using the individual’s preferred styles and meeting the needs of the situation. The modern goal is to develop ‘good enough’ leadership.
How you look to develop leadership qualities will depend on whether you are looking at the subject from the perspective of an organization or an individual. The former is driven by need, the latter by talent. Organizations need leaders who will support the organizational culture and aims. For them, therefore, leadership development involves:
Identifying the leadership characteristics and/or profile of people who will enhance organizational performance
Selecting/recruiting individuals whose character, skills and potential closely match that profile
Developing the particular skills/abilities within those individuals so they can fulfill their leadership potential within the organization.