If you were to ask one hundred different people what the best leadership qualities were, you are more than likely to get an abundance of different answers.
While some people think leadership thrives off of authority and determination; others might look to compassion and humility as more admirable traits. But when you’re getting ready to put yourself into the mindset of being an effective leader, you have to remember what it was like to be the employee. What was always the most helpful to you when you needed your boss, coach or mentor? What did you wish they would have done in your time of need?
Here are some traits you should always be building upon to be the best leader you can be:
In any setting where you are working towards a goal, people want to know that their leaders are confident in their decisions and know what is best for the group. Whether it be large scale projects or implementing smaller strategies to gauge success, have confidence in every decision you make and ensure your decisions are worthy of that confidence. If you don’t think an idea will work or that you have the ability to lead your team, your employees will be even less inclined to believe in the idea. You set the tone for the ins and outs of the company’s responsibilities, so make sure you are confident in your abilities and in your team.
Sometimes plans don’t go in the way you hoped due to unforeseen or unpredictable circumstances. This is just a part of life whether in the field or in your personal life. Instead of acting out of fear or impulse, take a breath, open your mind and decide how you’ll take the next steps. The workplace is always changing, stay on top of the trends to make sure you’re prepared when things don’t go quite your way. Your team is looking to you for guidance in times like these and being calm and thinking fast is of the upmost importance.
Being personable doesn’t mean being your employee’s best friend, but it does mean being approachable and understanding. It can be easy to get in a power-backed mindset where you forget what it’s like to be an employee yourself. Remember that you are not just your team’s boss, but their fellow co-worker, and you should create a professional, yet personable relationship to foster trust. What does their job entail? How can you help their efficiency? What do your employees enjoy doing once they clock out? When employees are able to trust their boss, they will feel comfortable providing feedback, being honest in all aspects and informing you of accidental errors in the workplace.
Culture is defined by its ever-changing nature, which means the way that “things used to be done” will be likely to change. This doesn’t mean that one way is necessarily better than the other, it’s just a different approach than what you might be used to. Keep an open-mind to change and consider other viewpoints as being alternatives to the norm rather than challenges, and even if an idea appears to be blatantly incorrect or difficult to understand, try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Why do they want to go with this specific ideal? Why are they passionate about this belief? What is their point of view?
This may sound cliché, but communication is critical to the workplace in all aspects and can always be improved upon. For leaders specifically, it’s important to relay what your expectations and goals in a way that is clearly understood. Miscommunication is bound to happen at least once, but use the mistake as an opportunity to improve upon how this mistake can be avoided in the future. In the same way relaying your needs is important, it’s also important to listen attentively when your employees come to you for updates on projects or to communicate their own needs or concerns. The ability to give and receive information will decrease opportunities for misunderstandings, simple mistakes and frustration on both sides.
Becoming an effective, respected leader in the workplace can seem daunting or even overwhelming, but you are never alone and can always learn from your mistakes. No one becomes great at something overnight, so remember to stay respectful to others and the rest will fall into place.