What makes a good leader? Leadership is a healthy combination of skills and personality traits that enable people to accomplish specific goals relation to a cause or organization. Good leaders have specific characteristics that allow them, and the people they lead, to do great work.
Here are 5 common qualities of a good leader, and how they impact businesses.
1. Good leaders are goal-oriented
One thing that makes a leader great is their ability to bring a team together based on a series of common goals. What makes a team stronger is that, even on an individual level, each person’s work contributes in some way to the big picture. It is up to the leader of that team to help team members visualize what that big picture looks like.
Focusing on goals may not be every team member’s strength, but it needs to be the leader’s ultimate priority. Many times people do not do their best work because they are never told why their work matters. Regardless of the job, people want to know how the work they do impacts the organization as a whole.
Therefore, a good leader not only sets goals, but rewards their team members when milestones are reached as well. This way, even those who are not motivated by goals still have an incentive to keep doing the best work they can do. When everyone is on the same page, better work gets done.
2. They are excellent listeners
How good of a listener are you, really? An important quality of all effective leaders is that they know how to listen, and listen well. Because of this, they are able to incorporate more ideas into project management and in general lead much happier teams of people.
A good leader does not simply stand in front of a team, tell them what to do and how to do it and walk out of the room, leaving nothing up to interpretation or debate. Every time they address a team, it is a conversation, not a monologue. Good leaders are willing to listen to others’ ideas and concerns and always take them into consideration when making decisions.
People don’t just want to be heard: they want, and need, to be understood. They need to feel as though their thoughts and opinions matter. When a person feels as though her work makes a difference, she is much more likely to feel at least somewhat motivated to do better work. This, in the long run, benefits the team and the entire organization.
3.They possess high emotional intelligence
If you have ever worked with someone who took failure or criticism in the workplace personally, you have come across someone with low emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a measure of how well a person can identify and cope with the emotions of others, as well as their own emotions.
High emotional intelligence is an essential leadership quality because all leadership involves working with people, and all people have emotions. Some are better at expressing and handling them than others. It is a leader’s job to be able to interpret how members of their team might respond emotionally to certain situations.
Good leaders understand people on both a group and individual level. They don’t let emotions get in the way of quality work getting done, but they also understand how emotions affect people’s ability to work efficiently. They are more empathetic and have better relationships with those they are working with.
4. They are team players
At your last job interview, you may have been asked to describe an experience in which you worked well with a group of people: a team. Hiring managers ask this question because they need to know whether or not you can work well with others. This is more important to a successful work environment than you might think.
Good leaders are team players and enjoy leading their teams not because of their elevated status but because they “get” why teamwork works. They thrive in team environments and understand that the best work is done when, at least on a larger scale, everyone works together toward a common goal.
A good leader never seeks to control or over-criticize. They not only work well as part of a team, but it’s also where they do their best work. In order for a leader to be able to motivate others, they themselves have to be motivated, and excited about the work their team as a whole is going to accomplish.
5. They are always looking for ways to improve
For many, just because a certain goal has been met doesn’t mean the hard work stops. Characteristically, good leaders start setting new goals even before the current ones are finished. They are always looking for new ways to improve and work more efficiently. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone.
It can be difficult to continuously motivate teams who do not think this way. Some are completely satisfied with maintenance and continuing to do things the same way day in and day out, month after month. Leading a team often requires figuring out how to motivate teams, on an individual level and as a whole, to improve anyway.
Good leaders not only know strategies for motivating others to do great work, but also know how to cater those strategies to the different types of people they are working with. Every person is different and is motivated by different things. In order for an organization to continuously improve, leaders always keep this in mind.
Leadership is not easy. If you ever feel as though you are not a great leader, you just might be lacking in one or a few of these qualities compared to others. You can go through leadership training, or learn from the leaders in your life, how to improve some of these elements and become a better leader.
Good leaders have the potential to accomplish great things. Never let fear stand in your way. If you act with purpose, kindness, and determination, people will always follow you.