The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I". And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I". They don't think "I". They think "we"; they think "team". They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit.... This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.
- Peter Drucker
- Peter Drucker
These are the best set of words ever used to describe what is expected of a good leader. A good leader is the one who will live the journey of work, live the journey of growth, along with you. A good leader is someone who never leaves you alone and is always there when it comes to support and motivation. With effective leaders, it's never the matter of individual growth. What matters to them is growth of each and every member of the team together in such a way that none of the members lose their respective individuality. Leadership is not an easy task to do. In order to be a good and successful leader, one must possess and continue to polish the essential traits of leadership.
What are Traits of a Good Leader?
What are the essential traits of a successful leader? To answer this question, the points to be noted are, "What do you expect from a leader?", and, "As a leader, what do you expect from your followers?" Leadership will not exist if there is no one to follow you and walk your path. They say some are 'born leaders' and some are 'born to become leaders'. Which category do you fall into? Just go through the points that follow to see what leadership qualities you already possess, and what you need to acquire in order to become a successful leader.
Extremes of anything is bad. A leader is someone that everyone looks up to as their source of inspiration. Getting way too aggressive or being too laid-back, is both harmful for the team as well as the successful completion of leadership goals. One must possess qualities like tolerance, patience, calmness, and maintain a balance between friendliness and professionalism. Therefore, it is very important for a leader to have a balanced personality and approach towards the team.
A good leader is like the head of the family whose job is to not only look after himself, but the entire family as one. One among the many characteristics of a good leader, is the ability to work in a team and lead the team by coordinating all the efforts of the team members in one direction which fulfills the organizational goals. The leader being the head of the team is responsible for taking his or her team towards the height of success and growth. A good leader always mentions 'we', instead of mentioning 'I'. This creates a sense of belonging towards the leader, towards the team, towards the organization.
Just and Impartial
A person can never be considered as an effective leader if he / she is biased towards a certain belief or a person. It is very important for a leader to be just and fair minded. Only then can he build the trust and the respect within the minds of the people who follow him. A leader who treats certain team members of his or her team in a biased manner can never gain the trust and confidence which is required to channelize the efforts of the entire team members in a productive fashion.
Good listening skills will not only earn you respect but will also be the door of trust and belief of your team members in you. This leadership quality enables you to win hearts. Imagine how you would feel as a team member, if your leader has no time to listen to your ideas or problems? Instead of listening to you, he / she is more busy in criticizing you for wasting the time of the team? Listening to your subordinates is NEVER a waste of time. In fact, if you, as a leader are able to generate the comfort level and the belief of always being there with your team members when they need you, you might just be surprised of the progress of your team towards positive growth.
Be a Role Model and Not the Boss
A leader is someone who leads others. How can one lead others if he or she has never walked the path as a follower? What I am trying to say is that in order to be a good teacher, one must be a good student with a willingness to constantly learn. It is important for a good leader to meet the expected standards and be an example to others who follow him. This is possible by always guiding and helping the team members as one of them, and not being bossy and commanding. Try to be a part of the team rather than just giving orders and targets.
Confidence in Yourself and the Ones Whom You Work With
'Team work' and 'leadership' cannot go without each other. So, a leader shouldn't only be confident in himself but also show the same amount of confidence in the people he works with. This is what team leadership is all about. This will give an idea to the team members that the leader believes in them and wants them to be successful. Also this will boost their individual confidence which will definitely improve the team performance and give them the confidence to aspire and become future leaders.
How can one lead a team if he or she can't even convey the team members where to go? Communication gap can lead to a lot of misunderstandings at work. To be an effective leader one must possess the ability to communicate exactly what he or she wants and expects from the team members. A leader is also expected to be the motivation factor for the team members and this requires the leader to possess effective communication skills. One needs to keep in mind that a team consists of different individuals, each with different approaches and mindsets. Therefore, the leader must keep in mind that the communication should happen in such a manner that none of the team members end up getting confused, offended, or demotivated.
Focus is very important when it comes to achieving your goals. An unfocused leader would never be able to lead the team towards their goals, be it the goal of the organization or the goals of the individual team members. Remember that when it comes to achieving a desired target, there are various hurdles and setbacks that end up deviating the set plan. Which is why the leader needs to be a visionary, a determined and focus person, who may change the course of direction, but never deviate from its end goal. A leader is like the captain of the ship, if the captain is not focused and clear with where he needs to go, the whole ship would end up being lost!
Taking Responsibility and Ownership
A person who is scared to take responsibility and ownership for not only his work but also for his team members can never prove to be a successful leader. So one of the most important characteristic of a good leader is the ability to take responsibility for himself and those who work with him. Someone who prefers putting the blame on others and having an 'excuse' for every failure will never be a successful mentor. In fact, if you notice carefully, all the aforementioned traits like confidence, focus, ownership, etc., are interrelated to each other. A leader who is focused will be confident, and a confident leader will never fail to take ownership for his or her team members.
If you are approachable, it becomes easy for the team members to come to you and discuss their issues, if they have any! And if they do, things can be sorted out at the very beginning and not when they go out of proportion, which happens in case the leader is not approachable and not easy to talk with.
Believes in Follow-Up
Most of the leaders, due to their busy schedule, skip this portion of their job. What they forget is that if there is effective follow-up, there will be effective results. Projects that are commenced without a proper follow-up always have mistakes and lack perfection, and hence the achievement of targets and goals are delayed. It's important to walk the talk.
Sharpen Your Skills Regularly
Knowing how to cut a tree isn't all that is needed in today's competitive market conditions, you also need to sharpen your ax more frequently. Wondering what I'm trying to say? Well, the greatest mistake that most leaders end up making in today's world is to think that they know it all. You may possess all the desired skills and yet lack success oriented results. Therefore, it is important to keep your cup empty and not saturate your mind that you know everything and that there is nothing new to learn!
To conclude, I would just say that if you try to imbibe the aforementioned traits of a good leader in yourself, it will not only prove successful in your professional life, but also improve you as a person. After all, there are many leadership roles that we play in our personal life as well. Not all qualities come naturally, but we can always develop them. Right? All the best!