Throughout history there have been some exceptional leaders, Ghandi, Churchill, and Nelson Mandela are a few that come to mind. All these great leaders have stood out over the decades and have mastered the art of leading a group of people, where in some circumstances have had to lead in the most harrowing of circumstances. What was the reason that people chose to follow these great leaders?
There has been extensive research completed by many universities and organisations over the years to try and pinpoint what exactly are the traits or qualities of a good leader. The research has apparently come back inconclusive. As you can guess, every exceptional leader who has stood out in a crowd has come with a different background, value system, experiences and character. Unfortunately there is no such thing as one neat little set of leadership traits. If you had to compare Ghandi and Churchill, these two men were polar opposites in their leadership styles, even missing a few key leadership traits some would say. However, they are still regarded as great leaders of our time.
There are however two traits that do rise above the countless leadership traits that we see on personal development lists and job description requirements and those two are as follows.
- Good leaders have the ability to adapt to their circumstances: A leader is someone who can assess and acknowledge the environment for what it is. Expecting the environment to be perfect for their unique requirements would be an impossible ask. Good leaders can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a situation as well as identify future opportunities. Never wishing what could be, but knowing what the results will be into the future. Good leaders truly believe in the vision themselves, so much so that their passion and motivation for achieving their vision shines through in all that they do.
- Good leaders understand the need for building relationships: Leaders understand that in order to reach the ultimate vision they need the people around them to firstly buy into that vision. Once that has happened only then can action plans be executed.
How do you get people to follow you or buy into the vision? Well, this could be the place where some of the other important traits come in. Good leaders know that it’s not about spitting out orders and expecting results. It’s ultimately about building relationships. What are some of the characteristics of a strong relationship? What should a good leader be practising everyday?
- Respect: Earning respect from the team by practising active listening, being accountable for one’s actions, practising what they preach and stepping up and leading from the front.
- Empathy: Taking the time to understand the team and how they view the situation. Considering their feedback and suggestions to make them feel part of the process.
- Loyalty: Being honest and open with the team builds loyalty and trust.
- Treating everyone as unique: Good leaders take the time to get to know the individual team members. Their style, strengths, challenges, personal goals and dreams. The leader will help each team member to grow, develop and reach personal goals whilst working towards the business vision.
Do you have these leadership traits? If not, what do you need to do to develop them?