10+ Characteristics of a Good LeaderWhat traits do you need to be a good leader? Do you have them? If you don't have them - how do you develop them? August 7, 2018
Getting to the part of your life where you get to be a leader is a hard process. Kudos to fighting your way to the top, however, the toughest part is to come. To be a great leader it takes lots of skill, empathy and hard work.
But as a new leader, you can easily get confused with all the information available today. So, what really sets apart business owners from leaders?
Let’s take a look at the traits that build “Fortune 500” companies and make legends out of Fred Nurk (*for all non-Australians reading, Fred Nurk is our Average Joe).
Characteristics of a Good Leader
- Leaders lead by example
- Leaders are fair and impartial
- Leaders are decision takers
- Leaders listen to their intuition
- Leaders delegate and empower
- Leaders are good communicators
- Leaders embrace failure
- Good leaders are always accessible
- Leaders should be down to Earth
- Leaders never stop learning
- Leaders help individuals on their team grow
- Leaders are visionaries
- Leaders are confident
Leaders lead by example
By far the most important trait a leader can have is to lead by example. There is nothing more motivating to a team or an employee than seeing their manager, or their boss, working alongside them.
Great leaders aren’t scared to put in the hours, do the dirty work or make personal sacrifices in order for the team and the company to prosper.
History is ridden with leaders that led by example – Alexander the Great wouldn’t be great if he didn’t fight his battles. Like it or not, you’re always leading by example. It depends on you if the example is good or bad.
How to lead by example
Leading by example isn’t easy. Just like any human, there are days when leaders feel down and unmotivated. As a leader, however, you can’t afford to show it, as this will lead to demotivation of the whole team.
This isn’t an easy task, but if the leader doesn’t care, then why should the employee?
Always share your vision for the future and what steps you’d like to take in order to reach your goals.
You can’t just talk the talk, make sure you walk the walk and do everything that you talk about.
Leaders are Fair and Impartial
Good leaders are always fair. Just like a parent, you can’t have a favourite employee.
In order to manage your team in a way which all colleagues are pleased you have to be an impartial leader.
Taking decisions based on personal feelings is wrong as such actions influence everyone on your team.
History has proven over and over again that great leaders know when someone does nothing for the team and when to remove dead weight even if they have an out-of-work connection.
How to be a fair leader
Being fair is a tough job. Often you’ll have to disappoint people you like, other times you will disappoint them.
It’s important to keep your mind on the big picture and always do what is good for the team.
Leaders Know How to Take Decisions
Most people can’t take decisions. They just can’t handle the stress of knowing that their actions influence the lives of others.
The inability to act and decide for your whole team will always result in failure. If you can’t take and execute tough decisions, leadership most likely isn’t your cup of tea.
How to take decisions
Just like with anything in life, decisions are taken either on blind faith or based on facts and information. With the first being much harder to take.
Deciding without knowing the outcome, and still managing to succeed is what separates good leaders from great ones.
But knowing how and when to take risky decisions requires experience which only comes with time.
Intuition, Intuition, Intuition!
How do you know what’s right? All your actions are based on intuition and the way you execute will result in the direction your company will go.
To grow you have to listen to yourself. In order to be in line with what you want to achieve you should spend some time alone, each day. In other words, talking to yourself.
How to listen to your intuition
Listen to your inner self. Try meditation, stay alone with your mind and listen to your inner self.
Meditating daily can help with feeling and understanding your intuition. Being consistent with your meditation is key. A meditation session can last anywhere from one hour to just five minutes.
Great leaders know how to delegate and empower
A person can do so much before he starts to feel overwhelmed. In order to succeed leaders should know the strengths and weaknesses of every employee.
This is a must, as leaders should delegate tasks routinely. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your team members inside and out will help you with assigning tasks according to each of your colleagues strengths.
How to delegate and empower
Understand that those below you in the hierarchy are just as capable as you are. Get to know your colleagues individually and familiarise yourself with their strengths.
When giving more responsibilities to the colleagues in your team you’re making them independent and more capable to do tasks by themselves. This, in turn, encourages entrepreneurial behaviour in your team.
Successful leaders are great communicators
We communicate on a daily basis. As a leader, however, you will have to be an above average communicator.
Either when problems arise, or when you need to explain the goals you’re envisioning, successful leaders keep their cool and clearly speak their mind.
How to improve your communication skills
It takes time to develop good communication skills. However, nothing beats preparation. Make sure you have written down and thought through everything you want to say and present.
Leaders embrace failures and setbacks
It’s only normal in the line of work to have some setbacks. But the reaction of the leader to those failures and setbacks is what separates great from everyday leaders.
A lot can be gained from failure. What failed you once won’t fail you the second time.
How to embrace setbacks and failures
It’s not easy to accept that you’ve failed. Be long enough in the game and soon you’ll start to see failures as lessons. There is nothing wrong with failing every now and then as long as you understand that failure is a normal part of success.
Understand where you made mistakes and use your unsuccessful attempts to learn lessons and improve yourself and your team.
Good leaders are always accessible
The difference between leaders and managers is that leaders listen to their team. They mutually discuss the topics of improving workflow, bettering their results and even speak about personal things.
Being accessible makes you a “human” leader, one that can be talked to, joked with and not just a person who’s a manager (or any other title).
How to be accessible
While you have an important job, you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously. In order to have a team that’s going to listen to you, you have to listen first.
Have a 20-minute personal meeting with each of the colleagues on your team. Discuss what they want and you would be surprised how much they have to say. This is also a great opportunity for you to see what your team thinks about you.
Real leaders are down to earth
No matter how much your paycheck is or how what level of success you’ve achieved being down to earth is most likely the most important trait leaders possess.
It’s easy to fall in the trap of thinking you’re more than your team members, but that will lead to nothing more than a badly managed team.
How to stay grounded
Make daily reminders to yourself to what you’re thankful for. Humility is the ultimate tool to propel yourself to success.
Even one of the richest people on Earth, Warren Buffett drives a $45,000 Cadillac and spends no more than $3.17 on breakfast. These little things keep people grounded with a clearer vision for the future.
Incorporate a couple of these things in your life to constantly remind yourself where you come from and how easy is to return there.
Great leaders never stop learning
While some people may think that getting a diploma in management is enough, a real leader knows how important is to never stop learning.
Becoming good at new things makes the brain work in a different way. All of the biggest leaders know that knowledge is crucial for success.
How to learn constantly
While it’s easier to say that you have no time left for books, it’s all about figuring out yourself and how you learn the best.
You shouldn’t limit yourself to books. One can learn from movies, history, short article on Medium or LinkedIn or just by closely observing other people’s actions.
A leader always help individuals on their team to grow
A real leader realises where is potential and always helps people on their team to grow, both personally and professionally (even if this means outgrowing the leader).
How to help other to grow
This is achieved only by being truly selfless. You shouldn’t be afraid to help people on your team to grow in their careers and become the best they can be.
Guidance, finding resources and training and allowing more independence on the subject is what will help them grow into professionals in the field.
Leaders are visionaries
Developing a vision is hard. First, you will have to learn how to develop it, then how to work towards achieving that vision.
All people that ever build something great had a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve.
How to become a visionary
Like learning how to channel your intuition, you will have to spend some time meditating. Being alone with your thoughts is a great way to envision and brainstorm.
Meditate once a day and try to imagine your goals. Have a vision board close to your workspace to remind yourself the big goals you’re working towards.
Leaders are confident
Everything must be done with confidence. Leaders are regularly in a position where they have to take action which influences the lives of everyone on their team.
The stress that comes with being a leader is huge and you have to be confident that everything you do is for the good of your team, the company you’re working for and that it serves your goals.
How to be a confident leader
Confidence comes with time, experience and practice. If you’re a new leader take it easy, it’s only normal to feel unsure when taking decisions. In time you’ll become more experienced manager which will inevitably make you into a confident leader.
Leadership isn’t for everyone. Being a good leader takes above average love and dedication both for your team and the line of work you’re in. Feeling like you can be a great leader? Build you Fantastic business with us!