Guest Post by Jessica Thiefels
Some people seem to be natural born leaders. We watch in awe as they effortlessly sway throngs of people toward a common goal. Other people are thrust into a leadership role and must spring into action in a sink-or-swim environment. The question is, when it comes to being an effective leader, are these qualities learned or inherent? In many cases, the answer is both.
7 Personality Traits Powerful Leaders Share
Whether you want to lead a team, a community, a large corporation or a startup, there are certain character traits that can help you succeed. You may already practice some of these, but the good news is you can work to develop these soft skills. Here are seven vital character traits leaders need to be successful.
An effective leader must trust his or her staff. He or she must believe that the members of their team are capable of getting the job done, and have confidence in their skills and abilities. Not only does this make it easier to delegate tasks, but it makes employees feel more valued and appreciated which leads to happier employees and better overall performance.
“It’s important to remember that trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness,” according to Tanya Prive from Forbes. “Delegating tasks to the appropriate departments is one of the most important skills you can develop as your business grows.”
When it comes to leadership, respect is a two-way street; it has to be mutual. When employees respect you, they’re more likely to follow your directions and listen to and implement your feedback. They also trust that you have their best interest at heart.
The challenge leaders face is that they must command respect as an authoritative figure, without being a tyrannical boss, calling out commands. Ultimately, respecting your employees, as both people and workers, is of utmost importance. “Leaders recognize that employees are people, too, and they have basic needs that must be met and nurtured in order to enhance performance,” according to Thought Leaders.
Leaders must be strong-willed, tough, competitive—and kind. Many of the most powerful leaders are empathetic and compassionate. Unfortunately, it seems that kindness is often easily forgotten, in the workplace and in life.
According to a 2016 survey, 76 percent of respondents said the world is a less kind place than it was 10 to 20 years ago. If you want your employees to work hard and take pride in what they do, you must treat them with kindness.
“A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence—and to lead—is to begin with warmth,” according to Harvard Business Review. “Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas.” When you’re kind to your employees and treat your staff with compassion, you will see a positive shift in performance, morale and company culture.
It’s a leader’s job to influence employees, make them believe in their mission, and inspire them to work hard. As such, a great leader needs to be confident. “Not only are the best leaders confident, but their confidence is contagious,” writes Peter Economy, from Inc. “Employees are naturally drawn to them, seek their advice, and feel more confident as a result.”
If you’re not a naturally confident person or you lack leadership experience, you can change that. Surround yourself with smart, talented individuals, study well-known successful leaders, and seek personal development opportunities.
No matter how much planning you do, something will inevitably go wrong. You might not meet your numbers in a quarter, you may lose a big lead, or your top salesman might leave the company. Your team will look to you and take your lead during these trying times. As a leader, you should express concerns while setting an example by keeping yourself composed.
If you panic at the first sign of adversity, this will trickle down to your employees. Instead, remain positive and encourage your team to keep working hard. If you’re resilient and able to change your strategy or approach, you can work through challenges and maintain a calm, stable work environment.
It’s often said that integrity is doing the right thing when nobody’s watching—when you’re a leader, someone is always watching.
“Leaders with integrity walk the talk. They are consistent, honest, moral and trustworthy,” says Harvey Schachter from the Globe and Mail. ”Leaders without integrity can’t be trusted—by their colleagues, their bosses or the public—and inevitably that will lead to problems.”
The business world can be cutthroat, and sometimes you may need to make some unpopular decisions. Wherever possible, however, act with honesty and integrity, it will leave a lasting, positive impression on your team.
Great leaders understand that to be successful, they need a strong team. They recognize their employees for their efforts and acknowledge stellar performance. When you acknowledge your team and are grateful for the work they put in, you make your employees feel like an integral part of the organization. This boosts motivation to continue to work hard.
There are many ways to show your team your appreciation. You can verbally praise your employees, send out company-wide announcements to celebrate wins or hard work, or create an incentive program. The best approach is the one that works for you and your team.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and has five years of experience in the marketing world. She is currently a lifestyle blogger and has been featured on Ms. Career Girl, Manta, and LifeHack.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.