There’s no magic pill someone can take or one certain thing someone can do to become a good Leader. Being a good Leader is made up of many different qualities and characteristics, which work in harmony with others to create positive relationships and environments.
We’ve compiled a list of the top qualities we think a good Leader possesses. As you go through the list, you’ll note that these qualities are reliant on the Leader interacting with their team. Hence, communication is the overarching quality that feeds through all of these. A Leader cannot demonstrate any of these qualities without strong and regular communication with their team.
It all starts with Commitment
This is about an individual’s dedication to the wellbeing and needs of the people they lead. So that means understanding what motivates their people. It’s about knowing what their people’s weaknesses or challenges are while also understanding their strengths.
Director of Barclayss®, John Barclay, describes a time where he experienced great commitment from a Leader: “Within the very first week of joining a new team, my partner and I separated. My new Leader noticed that very quickly. He was able to sit down with me and work with me around what I needed from him and the team to stay effective in my work but manage what was going on outside of work. So, for me, he demonstrated a very strong commitment to me as a team member.”
Humility can be seen in many forms of actions and behaviours. A Leader shows humility best when they know and acknowledge that the team is contributing to the collective objective, not just them. Humility is also present when a Leader feels comfortable in knowing that they’re not always going to be the smartest person in the room.
Doing what you say you’re going to do, is the sole essence of Integrity. Although there are many ways someone can demonstrate Integrity, the keyways are through professionalism and respect.
In the context of Leadership, honesty is when a Leader is their genuine self. They don’t attempt to put up a façade to generate respect from others. They are quintessentially themselves and are respected because of that.
Vulnerability and honesty in a Leader are linked. A Leader must be able to communicate to their team how things are progressing, or not progressing, and how that’s impacting them and others. Their vulnerability creates a safe space for others to also express how they feel.
Some people may look at confidence or directiveness as a strong attribute of good Leadership. However, the problem with associating these two behaviours with good leadership is that it can enable a Leader to think that some form of aggression or enforcement is a good way to make people do what that they want them to do. This can work in the short term but deteriorates the culture longer term.
A better attribute to embody is assertiveness. This comes when a Leader can communicate a message succinctly and with clarity. If the line between aggression and assertiveness is unclear, here are two key aggressive behaviours that help with differentiation:
Raising of voice
If a Leader feels like they need to speak louder or over people, this can land them on the aggressive side. If a Leader can communicate calmly without a lot of emotion but with good volume it will have a better impact.
By speaking at a fast pace, it prevents others from speaking or interjecting where needed. A slower pace when speaking invites and encourages natural conversation.
Influencing (versus manipulating)
Influencing is a way of communicating or engaging a team in a way that makes them want to strive beyond whatever the basic expectation is. Some Leaders may have that intention, to encourage their team, but instead use manipulation tactics. This could be through using emotional drivers such as guilt to manoeuvre people towards an objective.
To positively influence people, Leaders should include their team in decision making processes. By being part of the process, the team will have strong beliefs and connections to their goal, which allows for effective team agreement. When a team is manipulated, they may feel guilty about what they’ve done or not done, resulting in them either stepping away from the goal or moving forward with resistance.
Empathy (not sympathy)
A Leader should not feel sorry for their team members if there’s a challenge. They should be able to emphasise with them about how pressures and anxieties can pop up within work. If a Leader starts to take a sympathetic approach they end up in a rescuing role, trying to make the team member feel better about the situation. However, when a Leader uses empathy, they embody a coaching role which allows for mentorship and productive support; the Leader connects with what is happening for their team member but they’re not going to solve the issue for them.
In summary, whatever it is a Leader wants from their team in a cultural sense, they need to be able to Lead by example. By using these qualities and behaviours with their team, they will create an environment where that is reflected back. For instance, if a Leader wants honesty from their team, they need to demonstrate honesty and so forth. This is how integral cultures are formed, it all starts from good Leadership.