There is no “one-size-fits-all” personality or attitude when it comes to being an effective leader. Some are reclusive introverts while others are extroverted, some highly organized while others thrive in a world of chaos.
What distinguishes an average leader from one that is effective, successful, and inspirational? Amongst all effective leaders, there are certain characteristics that bind them all together.
Communication is important for any career, but exceptional leaders must have exceptional communication skills. Some leaders are so busy getting things done that they don’t have the time to work on their own interactions or consider how the messages they send out are being conveyed by others. These leaders may be successful in what they do but won’t stand out as being effective leaders who empower and unite their team.
Effective leaders are sensitive, relatable, and approachable. They have impeccable communication and know exactly how different people want to be communicated with. They have the ability to adjust the way that they communicate so that the person they’re talking to receives the intended message in a way that’s best suited to them. This not only ensures that the leader’s messages are always clearly interpreted, but paves the way for connection, empathy, and thinking more along the lines of “we” rather than an “I” mentality.
The ability to empower and coach
And the ability to do the above without micromanaging! Effective leaders are never micromanagers, but always empowerers, motivators, and uplifters. They work to facilitate and support the growth of each member of their team, be it the receptionist or their next-in-command. Rather than simply issuing instructions and giving directions, effective leaders focus more on empowering their team members to make their own decisions and develop their own skill sets.
The goal of an effective leader is to grow their team to be efficient, successful individuals who can work independently and thrive in each of their roles. They provide the tools that employees need to teach themselves valuable skills and finesse, rather than simply telling them what to do. Google research confirms this and discovered that the best managers are those who offer the right balance between advice and freedom.
When you’ve been working in the same company, industry, or career for years, things can start to get a little dull and people can feel stuck. A highly effective leader is someone who constantly innovates and engages their creativity to stop that “stuckness” from happening and hampering progress. They need to be realistic and practical, but innovative enough to stop dullness in its tracks. Thus, being careful not to get “too comfortable” in their own roles and remain agile.
Highly effective leaders should have the vision to foresee, adjust, and adapt to changes in their industry, business, environment, and technology, always looking forward and implementing new procedures to stay up-to-date and keep things fresh. They must be open to change and maintain a competitive advantage amongst others. In doing so, Fitstop Gym CMO Travis Telfer suggests “employing the right mix of practicality and realism to be creative but make decisions based on data and analytics.”
One of the most powerful traits a leader can have is to not abuse their power. Practicing humility is, therefore, one of the most respected traits of an effective leader, allowing them to inspire their team by not employing a dictatorial style of leadership. Being “humble” means admitting when you’re at fault, apologizing when necessary, and sharing the credit of your company’s success with those who helped you get there.
Humble leaders are relatable, humane, and avoid letting their power get the best of them. Practicing humility also leads to more sound decision making and planning, as it allows the leader to admit that they don’t know everything and have the capacity to learn from anyone and everyone.
Hand-in-hand with humility is the ability of an effective leader to collaborate with their team on the act of leadership itself. This means inviting others to participate in leadership with you, which then creates transparency, empowers employees, and strengthens trust and connection within your team.
Collaborating on leadership means you can work with more than just one brain, creating a hive mind that works together with the best interests of your vision at heart. An effective leader will always prioritize collaboration. You can do this by inviting others in your decision making processes, sharing your thoughts and concerns, and showing colleagues that you respect and value their opinions and ideas.
Being an effective leader is the best way to encourage your team to grow into their own roles and develop the necessary skills to become great leaders themselves. A highly successful, unique, and thriving team is one with many individuals leaders, each practicing the above characteristics and complementing the skill sets of the other. If you’re looking to inspire others, then consider developing the traits listed above in your team so that you can become a highly effective leader too.