Recently, I was reading the results of a study by the Harvard Business Review. Their findings indicated that “when it comes to garnering commitment and engagement from employees, there’s one thing that leaders need to demonstrate: respect.”
They claim that no other leadership behavior has a greater effect on employees.
Apparently, being treated with respect is more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, providing useful feedback and even opportunities for growth and development.
This got me thinking about more behaviors that differentiate great leaders from other leaders. Personally, I’ve experienced the difference between a strong leader who has the ability to inspire team members with a mission and sense of purpose and a weak leader who can easily deflate morale. I suspect most everyone has had similar experiences.
For all of you aspiring leaders out there, I’ve identified 10 key traits that every great leader should possess and learn to emphasize:
- Ability to Inspire. Inspiring others may come naturally to some, but if not, make every effort so your team feels invested in the accomplishments of the company. Whether everyone owns a piece of equity or you pay out bonuses, generating enthusiasm for everyone’s hard work is so important. As a leader, it is your job to keep morale high, and that begins and ends with appreciation for and acknowledgement of others’ hard work.
- Transparency. In my opinion, one of the best ways to engender trust and gain cooperation is to be 100% yourself—flaws and all. Be open, consistent and always passionate about your work.
- Confidence. All businesses have their ups and downs. During the down times, it’s important not to panic. In order to maintain company morale, great leaders stay calm and remain confident. While setbacks may derail some people, it’s important to focus on the larger goal.
- Positive Attitude/Sense of Humor. Having a positive attitude goes hand-in-hand with confidence. Yet having a sense of humor comes in handy in keeping your chin up. Find the humor in the hurdles and truly believe in making the impossible possible. Combined, this will help create a culture of positivity and optimism.
- Honesty and Integrity. Employees are a reflection of their leaders. And if leaders make honest and ethical behavior a core value, the team will mimic that behavior. Also, focus on doing what’s right, not on being right.
- Persistence. All great things take time to achieve. Persistence, patience and a willingness to go beyond where others will stop can often be the difference between a good leader and a great leader.
- Accountability. While it may seem easier to blame others, holding yourself accountable builds character. Take responsibility for your actions and decisions; then take it to the next level by making things right with those who were impacted.
- Ability to Delegate. Get a good understanding of what each team member enjoys doing most. There is a good chance that if they enjoy a certain type of work more than other tasks, they will likely get better results. A bonus side effect is that it will free up your time to focus on other work.
- Superior Communication Skills. In your head, it may seem clear that other people know what you expect of them and want accomplished, but often it is not clear to them. Being able to clearly set goals and concisely describe what you want accomplished is extremely important. If you can’t collaborate and relay your vision to your team, you won’t all be working toward the same goal.
- Commitment. We’ve all heard it 100 times before—“lead by example.” It is so true! One of the best ways to motivate your team is to get down in the trenches and work with them, showing that everyone at every level of the organization is working hard. This effort will earn the respect of your team and infuse the energy that motivates others to work hard to achieve common goals.
There they are folks—10 behaviors of great leaders! If you don’t possess all of them, consider setting some goals to work on developing a few more—New Year resolutions are right around the corner!