In my experience, leaders come in many different “personality” shapes and sizes. The great ones though, seem to have some common characteristics to me that stand out. Experts on the topic of leadership agree that there are certain principles needed in order to lead a team to greatness.
One characteristic that great leaders share is the common ability to adapt to their surroundings while empowering a team to succeed. They understand that fostering a strong culture supports the foundation for accomplishing any mission.
In business – and in life for that matter – change is inevitable, and great leaders embrace change and are always preparing for it.
Some leaders are loud, and some are a bit more introverted. Some have excellent intuition, and some rely more on data analytics to guide them, while others rely on both data and their gut instincts. The great ones will work to continually improve their emotional intelligence (IQ).
According to a survey conducted with the American Board of Experts, these qualities are the common links among great leaders:
1) Strong beliefs / motivation
Great leaders have conviction when it comes to their ideas. Without it, they can’t expect others to follow them, right? From there, they build steam by listening to others.
A great leader will never force someone to follow him or her – the following should happen organically through encouragement. They lead by example, always putting their best foot forward. Showing passion, having confidence in themselves and their followers will motivate and inspire a team of people to be the best they can be.
2) Respect / team building
It’s not possible to lead effectively without respect. Good leaders build a good, cohesive team by showing respect, and interest in their ideas. They show empathy to others around them to make an emotional connection with their team members. They are able to communicate and listen well.
It’s crucial that they understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Successful leaders also surround themselves with strong individuals that they can mold into a “well-oiled machine” of competent people that work well together. They also tend to have the skill to nurture others to create the leaders of tomorrow.
3) Striving to be better
Great leaders strive not only to improve their emotional IQ, but they are always looking to make constant improvements to their company’s inner workings with the latest technology, or a breakthrough that could propel their business to the next level. They are prepared for almost anything that comes their way.
They have a clear vision and use available resources to solve problems. They make tough decisions and take risks knowing that they could be wrong. They take responsibility by admitting to mistakes. When things go right, they shine the spotlight on others, taking pride that they helped along the way. Having a clear vision also enables good leaders to strategically plan.
Not only do they demonstrate a clear focus, but they are courageous, display honesty, integrity, humility – which leads me to the next much-overlooked trait.
When envisioning the top characteristics of great leaders, humility probably doesn’t come to mind, but this one is just as important as the rest. People often think that showing humility is a weakness, but that really isn’t the case.
Research shows that humility is more closely associated with positive qualities including sincerity, modesty, fairness, loyalty, and authenticity. It is possible to possess these traits while still being strong and courageous.
Leaders who are humble aren’t afraid to hire people who are smarter than them. Rather, they surround themselves with the right people and encourage them to speak up. They champion the best ideas, no matter who thought of them. This type of culture can cultivate the best from every department in any company.
Humble leaders not only admit to their mistakes, but they often try to understand where they went wrong or what can be done to prevent mistakes in the future. They acknowledge this negative feedback with a thoughtful response.
No matter what traits leaders have though, at the end of the day it really comes down to simply getting the job done. To make the world a better place, hopefully, the great ones will possess the traits above.
Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash