5 Traits the Best Leaders Have In Common
Over the years I have worked under a variety of leaders. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that working under a great leader is pure joy, and working under a not so great leader is frustrating, stressful, and discouraging.
The leader you work under has a whole lot to do with the quality and creativity of your work. They can inspire their team to go above and beyond, or they can seriously inhibit the quality of work their team is capable of.
What I appreciated most about one of my early leaders was her ability to draw out the best in me. She was a superb delegator. Her faith in me was a confidence builder and I knew she had my back. She gave me numerous opportunities to expand my skills and expertise. And she listened when I had a differing perspective.
I’ve also worked with leaders who were utterly resistant to delegating and some who over-delegated passing on responsibilities that were really their own.
I bet you’ve experienced your own positive and negative leaders – and most likely some in-between. There are no perfect leaders!
Leading is not for the faint of heart. It’s a challenging role! Whether you are an influencer, leading you, a team, organization, or business, leading effectively is hard! Sticky situations pop up all the time as well as circumstances without clear answers.
The very best leaders, however, all have something in common. They possess the ability to:
1. Attract People With Potential
That’s what the gal I mentioned above saw in me: potential. And she was able to zero in on my strengths and provide opportunities for me to put those to use. I know for myself, being able to use my strengths and skills is exciting and makes work much more satisfying.
How are you serving those who serve under you? Have you tuned into their “super powers” and created ways for them to operate using them?
The bonus is that it will not only make work a more positive experience for them, it will also better benefit your organization.
How can you actively be on the lookout for people with potential and ways to ignite their super powers?
2. Motivate People Successfully
The leader doesn’t have to have all the answers. In fact, when leaders act like they do have all the answers it is an energy deflator for the team.
It’s possible to be an amazing leader without having the experience that the others on the team have. In fact, when leaders rise through the ranks and oversee people in roles they previously had, it’s more tempting to micro-manage or jump in and get things done right. Both have a discouraging effect on those they lead.
However, when a leader can highlight the issues and invite input it can be highly motivating for the team, not to mention it increases buy in! That’s what the leader I mentioned previously did with me.
When a leader asks provocative questions and offers opportunities for the team members to take on challenges that are a bit beyond them it is exciting and encourages people to grow.
How can you stretch your people by asking better questions?
3. Provide the Opportunity to Discover
It’s hard to thrive and grow working in an environment where you are punished for making mistakes or where you don’t have a voice.
Great leaders view mistakes as a springboard for learning. They also listen, really listen, and talk less when interacting with their team. Exceptional leaders also set expectations high, clearly communicate those expectations, and regularly follow up.
When a leader recognizes their own mistakes, owns them, and is willing to admit them to those they lead it enables their people to follow suit. That takes strength of character!
How are you dealing with the mistakes your people are making? How are you encouraging them to learn and grow?
4. Spark Debate
You might be surprised by this one! Remember debating isn’t the same thing as conflict. A debate is about thoroughly exploring an issue from all angles 5. – both the pros and cons. By encouraging friendly debate on issues it draws out superior thoughts and ideas than if you, the leader, simply makes a decision. Granted, this takes more time, but it does ultimately enable you to arrive at better conclusions and create ownership at the same time.
The key: be sure you are debating the right question!
What issue is on the radar for you right now? How can you spark a debate to help you and your team arrive at a better solution?
5. Actively Invest
Great leaders invest in their people! They provide the resources they need: training, coaching, and back up. This allows them to relinquish ownership to the team or a team member so they can operate more independently and you can devote your energy to what only you can do.
The bonus: when you invest in your people, offer them autonomy, it makes it more natural to hold them accountable.
How are you investing in your people? What level of ownership do they have? How are you checking in to see what they need and holding them accountable?
Too often it’s the leader that’s slacking when results are lacking! Invest in your people and hand responsibilities off and don’t take them back. Allow them to walk out the consequences – it’s a great teacher!
“Leaders” are everywhere. But to be a true leader, you don’t even need a title!
Leaders don’t intentionally set out to be poor leaders. In fact, they can have the very best of intentions, but hold their people back in unfortunate ways.
Becoming the leader I described above takes time! It takes practice. And you must be intentional. You can speed up that process by working with a coach to help you zero in on areas that need to change. A coach can also expose blind spots that are limiting your effectiveness as a leader.
I’m so thankful I experienced a leader like this – she was a wonderful role model for me!
How will you become the leader you need to be?
The concepts shared are inspired by Liz Wiseman’s ideas described in the New York Times bestseller: Multipliers – How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. It’s a read worthy of your time!
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