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Characteristics of a Good Leader in the Workplace

Characteristics of a Good Leader in the Workplace
Characteristics of a Good Leader in the Workplace
From clear communication to respecting others, developing these traits can help you manage more effectively—at every level.
Posted in: Leadership
Characteristics of a Good Leader in the Workplace
Characteristics of a Good Leader in the Workplace

Being a good leader in the workplace starts with how you complete the phrase 'A great leader always...,' and this can reveal a lot about your approach to leadership.

Leadership is critical for long-term business achievements and for fostering a positive environment for staff.

In fact, when employees are connected to their goals, achievements, or peers, there's a 1674% increase in the likelihood of them viewing your leadership favorably.

Exceptional leaders are not only inspirational but also key in driving their teams forward. Mastering this skill is more complex than it may seem.

Becoming an effective leader is not a short journey with no obstacles ahead, but it will reward you with satisfying results. It requires commitment and continuous exercises.

For those who are interested in boosting their leadership capacity, we have a lot of good news to offer. We will highlight 10 key qualities of a leader and explain ways to improve your leadership skills. 

What is leadership?

Leadership transcends mere authority and formal titles; true leadership is about empowering others and driving success, regardless of one's official designation. While holding a title may confer a semblance of authority, it does not inherently make someone a proficient leader. Conversely, lacking a formal title does not preclude one from exhibiting leadership qualities.

Contrary to popular belief, leadership is not synonymous with issuing directives. 

Instead, it involves empowering individuals to realize their potential and contribute to the organization's success. Effective leaders prioritize the collective goals of the organization over personal gain, demonstrating a commitment to the broader vision and fostering a culture of collaboration and achievement.

What Defines a Good Leader in the Workplace? 

An effective leader is the one who takes part in the open communication, inspires their team members, demonstrates exemplary behavior, is receptive to feedback, and remains open to novel ideas in a highly dynamic work environment.

Merely occupying a high-ranking office and giving orders is not the essence of true leadership.

Understanding the characteristics of a competent leader can greatly influence the prosperity of your organization.

Keeping this in mind, let's explore 10 key leadership qualities and how they can be leveraged to benefit both you and your workplace.

Why Effective Leadership is Important in Business

Why Effective Leadership is Important in Business

Ineffective leadership can have significant repercussions for businesses beyond just impacting morale. 

Research conducted by Gallup reveals that 24 percent of employees become actively disengaged due to poor management practices. This lack of engagement results in teams that are less productive, less profitable, and more prone to turnover. 

The costs associated with turnover can be substantial, often amounting to nearly twice the annual salary of every employee who decides to leave the organization. Therefore, addressing ineffective leadership is crucial for maintaining a motivated and high-performing workforce. 

What Good Leadership Looks Like​?

Drawing from our extensive research and extensive collaboration with leaders across various industries worldwide, we have identified key qualities and skills that consistently characterize exceptional leadership. Over decades of observation and interaction with leaders in diverse organizational settings, we have honed our understanding of these fundamental traits that set apart truly effective leaders.

Here are 12 essential leadership traits.

1. Proficient Leaders Prioritize Transparent Communication

Employees value having a voice, whether it's to address issues or to share ideas that could enhance the business or client service. Lack of effective communication with your team can lead to demotivation, affecting morale and productivity. Research by Project.co indicates that 35% of businesses have experienced the loss of an employee due to communication breakdowns.

Exceptional leaders adapt their communication methods to fit various scenarios and individual preferences of team members. This involves understanding whether team members prefer emails, phone calls, or in-person discussions. Tools like Blink can help unify your team by facilitating easy communication.

Clear communication is key in reducing misunderstandings and mistakes, fostering trust within the team, and boosting morale. Efficient communication can elevate team productivity by up to 25%.

It's essential to uphold a workplace culture that values and respects open, honest communication.

Foster this kind of communication by:

  • Paying full attention to team members during conversations, showing them their input is valued.
  • Soliciting suggestions from your staff to boost their involvement, and implementing effective strategies for employee engagement.
  • Politely requesting, rather than demanding, assistance from your employees, which promotes a more collaborative and respectful environment.

2. Exceptional Leaders Promote Growth in Both Professional and Personal Arenas

A paramount quality of leadership lies in fostering your team's growth by providing them with opportunities for personal development. This could range from offering leadership courses or new skill training to supporting their pursuit of personal interests that motivate them both inside and outside the office.

A 2021 study by Lorman revealed that 70% of employees might leave their current position for a company that prioritizes their development and growth. It's evident that learning opportunities are highly valued by employees, and organizations with robust training programs often witness a notable boost in staff retention.

Imagine cultivating a workplace culture where each individual is given training tailored to their interests. In such an environment, employees are likely to feel valued and supported in achieving their personal and professional aspirations.

As a result, they're more inclined to contribute enthusiastically towards the company's objectives and vision.

To promote professional and personal development in your workforce, consider these four approaches:

  • Foster a culture of mentorship and coaching between managers and their teams.
  • Focus on nurturing soft skills like time management, active listening, and effective delegation.
  • Initiate cross-functional training programs to enhance the overall productivity of your organization.
  • Implement a Learning Management System (LMS) for streamlined and efficient employee training. 

3. Effective Leaders Model Excellence for Their Teams 

A key trait of a competent leader is their ability to consistently 'walk the talk.'

Consider this real-life example of leadership in action:

Imagine a manager named Julie, leading a team of seven at a community bank (think of her and her team as in the previous picture). She arrives at work slightly ahead of time each day to organize her tasks.

As her team begins to trickle in, she welcomes them warmly, showing genuine interest in their personal lives.

Julie convenes a morning meeting where, rather than dictating her agenda, she invites each team member to share their thoughts. She values their contributions and encourages them to develop their ideas further into actionable plans.

During work hours, Julie works alongside her team, attending to clients just like her colleagues.

This approach results in high employee engagement, as it visibly demonstrates her commitment to both her team's ideas and the business itself.

To truly lead by example, leaders should act as a guide through their own actions, rather than relying solely on instructions. Employees today look for congruence between a leader's words and actions, expecting to see a demonstration of the behaviors and practices preached.

Here are four strategies to effectively lead by example:

  • Be a role model by not contradicting your words with your actions.
  • Communicate with your group members in a way that they can easily grasp the instructions.
  • Remain available to ensure the queries of your staff are answered.
  • Involve the employees by giving them a reason why we need to do a specific task.
  • Implement respectful language, say 'please' while making commands, this way you will create a cordial work environment.

4. Effective Leaders Master the Art of Constructive Performance Feedback 

Feedback is an integral part of good leadership and its delivery to employees is a key component of it. When it is performed properly, it does not only bring employees development but also bonding of staff and their managers, which increases the level of trust.

The most effective feedback is direct and blunt, though it is more than that, it is showing your team members the way to the desired end.

Don't postpone feedback just for periods of regular review; instead, deliver it in a timely manner after the incident or event for optimal impact on performance.

To ensure your feedback is both effective and fosters the desired outcomes, consider these four approaches:

  • Give each individual personal feedback in a private session.
  • Avoid the 'sandwich' approach wherein praise is squeezed between constructive criticisms. This method mostly leaves the intended recipient confused and reduces their trust in you.
  • Highlight the specific employees' behaviors and contributions rather than commenting on their personal attributes.

5. Confident Leaders Seek Employee Input on Their Leadership Approach 

The adage holds true: there is always a room for improvement, especially in leading.

Your employees, interacting with you on a daily basis, are in a unique position to observe these areas and provide meaningful feedback. Their evaluations will offer a clear view of your strengths and places for improvement.

Ken Blanchard expressed that "Feedback is the breakfast of champions," and that is to say how it contributes to ongoing learning and growth.

Nonetheless, seeking genuine feedback from others is never easy. The staff members can be reluctant to pour their real minds out for the fear of hurting the others or facing repercussions in case they have made critical comments. Such an approach may result in superficial or evasive answers. Join us in our community forum!

To encourage sincere and constructive feedback from your team, consider these approaches:

  • Pose specific, targeted questions rather than broad ones like, "What do you think?"
  • Assure your staff that their frankness is valuable and appreciated.
  • Give them ample time to ponder your questions and formulate insightful responses.
  • Focus your inquiries on future improvements you can make, rather than dwelling on past mistakes. 

6. Visionary Leaders Embrace Change and Welcome New Perspectives 

As scary as change can be, even if it is positive, it can be difficult to go through it. Perceptive leaders acknowledge this fact and adopt a pragmatic approach towards change by not limiting themselves to simple solutions.

They understand the fact that the positive attitude toward change is the key and this is how employees can cultivate the culture of adaptation in their organization.

A real leader of class doesn't try to be wise or even smartest person in the room. They do not do this by hiring the same kind of employees, but by putting together a group of experts that are multifaceted, exposing them to a wide array of concepts and experiences without being insecure.

Such a team, when managed properly, acts as a powerful catalyst for strategy development, change implementation, and a boost in the company's profitability. Such individuals, with little or no supervision, will manage to keep a high standard that will be instrumental in maintaining continuous growth and development.

For leaders managing any team size, here are four strategies to foster openness to new ideas and facilitate a smoother transition to change:

  • Build a dedicated team of knowledgeable experts.
  • Comprehend the necessity for change and articulate the envisioned outcome clearly.
  • Involve your team in the decision-making process early on, enhancing their dedication to the change.
  • Align your beliefs and actions with the change. Exhibit resilience, perseverance, and a readiness to step out of your comfort zone 

7. Proficient Leaders Establish Clear Objectives and Delegate Effectively

An adept leader ensures that team members are engaged in tasks aligned with the company's objectives and vision.

Goals assigned to employees should be tangible and measurable. Employing data to establish benchmarks can help employees strive for excellence in their roles.

Additionally, a 2021 study by Bi Worldwide found that while 31% of employees acknowledged their managers set achievable goals, these goals weren't particularly challenging. It's crucial, therefore, to engage in goal-setting conversations with your team, crafting objectives that not only are reachable but also stimulate their professional development and growth. 

8. Exceptional Leaders Demonstrate a Deep Commitment to Their Work

Effective leadership stems from genuine motivation and a deep-seated passion. True leaders are not primarily driven by financial gains or status, but by a sincere desire to motivate and elevate others.

Leaders who are passionate about their work not only boost productivity but also ensure that their teams are deeply aligned with the company's core values, mission, and vision.

Most outstanding leaders possess a fervor that transcends mere job responsibilities, and they excel at rallying others around this shared enthusiasm. The qualities of such leaders include:

  • They maintain open-mindedness and respect diverse viewpoints.
  • They exhibit a consistently positive mindset and excellent problem-solving abilities.
  • Their communication is effective, and they listen to truly understand, not merely to respond.
  • They are forward-thinking and adept at inspiring others towards common goals.

9. Effective Leaders Maintain Optimism in Adverse Situations 

Many times, wonderful leadership is misinterpreted for smooth management, and vice versa.

The truth of the matter is that, even with a powerful team and bright ideas, as many challenges could come up as the stars in the sky.

On the other hand, it's in tackling these challenges, no matter how small or big, that a leader's true depth of emotional intelligence and capabilities is revealed.

According to Mac Anderson, "Great leadership usually begins with a heart willing to serve, a positive attitude and an eagerness to make a difference." Positivity is highlighted as the key element in leadership.

During those times when an organization faces crisis and uncertainty, nothing becomes more important than the words and actions of the leader. Here are steps to navigate such times effectively:

  • Take a moment to thoroughly assess the situation and understand the core issue.
  • Approach the problem with a positive mindset, actively seeking solutions.
  • Remain flexible and open to making necessary adjustments as situations evolve.
  • Persist with determination in resolving the challenges at hand.

10. Proficient Leaders Embrace Continuous Learning

All successful leaders have one in common: they never stop learning. They are always enrolled in relevant online courses and try interesting reading, use the quality tools, and look for the personal growth.

Their innate enthusiasm does not only boost their individual business performance but also meets the psychological needs of satisfaction and personal development.

Leadership is not a science. Leadership is a continuous process of learning. The continuous learning process allows leaders to have a deeper understanding of their world view and helps them respond to circumstances in a better fashion.

How to improve your leadership skills

Acquiring soft skills differs from mastering technical abilities, as it entails a blend of time and practice. Nevertheless, honing the attributes essential for effective leadership is entirely feasible with dedication. Below are some strategies to enhance your leadership skills and traits:

1. Identify your leadership style

While it's common to adapt leadership styles to various situations, establishing a clear framework for leading your team, projects, or meetings can be beneficial. Many professionals cultivate their unique leadership style, drawing from factors such as experience, personality, and the specific requirements of their company and its culture.

For instance, leaders in certain industries may grant their teams greater autonomy compared to others. A leader overseeing a team of creative professionals in an advertising firm might prioritize employee autonomy, whereas a leader managing an aerospace engineering team may emphasize technical precision due to the critical nature of the work.

2.Identify Strengths and Areas for Improvement 

Reflect on your existing qualities and areas where you excel, as well as those that present opportunities for growth. Seeking feedback from respected colleagues or mentors can offer valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses that you may not have recognized. Additionally, self-assessments can aid in understanding how to leverage your strengths and address areas needing improvement for the betterment of yourself, your team, and the organization.

3. Locate a mentor 

Select someone whom you admire as a leader and whose behavior you aspire to emulate. 

This individual could be a childhood role model, such as a teacher, coach, or mentor. Approach them and request mentorship, or seek out someone in a field that intrigues you. Take advantage of this opportunity to gain insights from their experiences and incorporate the qualities that contribute to their effectiveness. 

You can discover mentors within your community through personal connections or explore experts and alumni on professional networking platforms.

4.Exercise Patience

Becoming a proficient leader is a journey that unfolds over time, spanning months, years, or even decades. 

Many individuals commit their lifetimes to honing their leadership skills. Embrace patience and acknowledge that growth often comes through trial and error. Learn from your mistakes and continuously strive for improvement. 

Moreover, recognize that your leadership style may evolve across different stages of your life. You might serve as a student body president in college, transition to a volunteer role while pursuing your career, and eventually take on leadership roles in your child's school or community organizations related to your hobbies. Adaptability and flexibility are key as you navigate various leadership opportunities and contexts.

​Leadership Skill
​How to Obtain and Apply in the Workplace
​Communication
​- Actively listen to employees' concerns and ideas. - Clearly articulate goals and expectations. - Provide regular feedback and foster open dialogue.
​Decision Making
​- Gather relevant information and consider various perspectives before making decisions. - Delegate tasks effectively and empower team members to make decisions within their scope. - Evaluate outcomes and learn from both successes and failures.
​Problem Solving
​- Analyze problems systematically, breaking them down into manageable components. - Encourage creative thinking and brainstorming sessions within the team. - Implement solutions collaboratively and monitor their effectiveness over time.
​Emotional Intelligence
​- Develop self-awareness to understand personal strengths, weaknesses, and triggers. - Practice empathy and seek to understand others' perspectives and emotions. - Manage emotions effectively, especially during challenging situations or conflicts.
​Adaptability
​- Embrace change as an opportunity for growth and learning. - Remain flexible and open-minded in response to evolving circumstances. - Encourage innovation and experimentation within the team to adapt to new challenges.
​Integrity
​- Lead by example and adhere to ethical principles and values. - Communicate transparently and honestly with employees and stakeholders. - Take responsibility for mistakes and hold yourself and others accountable for their actions.
​Collaboration
​- Foster a collaborative environment where teamwork is encouraged and valued. - Build strong relationships with team members and stakeholders based on trust and mutual respect. - Facilitate effective communication and cooperation among diverse individuals and teams.
​Vision
​- Develop a clear vision for the organization's future and communicate it effectively. - Inspire and motivate others by articulating a compelling vision and setting ambitious goals. - Align team efforts and initiatives with the overarching vision to drive collective success.

 These skills can be obtained through training, mentorship, self-reflection, and real-world experience. To apply them in the workplace, leaders should actively practice and demonstrate these skills in their interactions with team members, stakeholders, and decision-making processes. Regular feedback and reflection can also help leaders refine and enhance their leadership abilities over time.

Wrapping up 

Leadership is not a static attribute but a dynamic process of development, adaptation and impact. This embraces development of open communication culture, personal and professional growth, walking the talk, and openness to feedback. An effective leader is one who adapts to the changes, sets the objectives, keeps positive even in the tough times, and learns every day. 

The principles are the foundation of the effective leadership, which leads the teams towards their common goals and results in an environment of excellence. 

Last but not least, leaders are not only the driver behind the organizational success but also increase the motivation and morale of their followers, leaving a legacy of positive change and permanent progress.

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Monday, 15 April 2024
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