There’s a very common misconception that great leaders are born. While that may be true in some cases, there aren’t too many of those. The majority percentage comes from practice and the right experiences.
Born leaders are endowed with “indisposable” characteristics that set them apart from those who are “made” into leaders over time. But regardless, anyone is capable of becoming a leader with repetition.
Great leaders in business prove to be exceptional in the way they approach their employees, are able to maximize their potential and perhaps the most important feature a leader can carry — social intelligence.
This is needed for guiding, inspiring, educating and igniting those around them to become better. Any great leader knows that they are only as good as the people they surround themselves with. A great leader possesses the ability to carry others towards success.
Of course they are, there are multiples ways of leading, some more bureaucratic than others, but there are a couple of qualities that every great leader, no matter how they got there, has.
Great leadership is a universal skill that can be used in every field if applied correctly.
Sit down, be humble
Sometimes leaders are so focused on managing every task around them that they disadvantage themselves by becoming less self-aware of the bigger picture. This leads to situations where they are unable to reflect on what they really need out of their team.
Leaders who are acutely aware of their actions and the way they respond to others is pertinent to their success. Leaders who take time to check themselves before checking their team can see the hidden gaps and flaws they might have missed through self-reflection.
Humility is important in a leader’s role, though some may display it as a fake persona to mask their egocentric visions, strong leaders must carry humility on their shoulder as a tool for their own education and success.
Humility is both being able to recognize your faults and mistakes, as well as allowing for more understanding of those around you.
Listening and assessing the situation a hand
Good listeners come a dime in a dozen. Good listeners who actually help are even rarer than that. Exceptional leaders take the time to listen, digest and address whatever situation is thrown at them.
They don’t look for a quick fix. They don’t slap a bandaid over a fresh wound, they think of other ways they can help the healing process further, even if it takes a longer time to solve the problem.
Good leaders know how to listen and offer advice and what it means to dissect a situation. The more you listen, the more you learn, and leaders never stop learning.
Planning, risk-taking and understanding the bigger vision
These qualities are what drives a leader in reaching their goals and having everyone see their same vision.
The bigger picture is the drive, and in order to make it happen, your entire team needs to see and feel it also. If you aren’t holding the same vision, then there’s a chance the project will fall flat.
What becomes tricky is bringing so many different minds together to reach a common goal. Take former Intel CEO Andrew Grove who wrote about the difficulties of process-oriented work in his novel, High Output Management:
“Running a successful business requires process-oriented thinkers. People who simply rely on instinct and creativity may find it difficult to work together on a regular basis.”
If you want everyone to work together, you need to inspire your team and create the right system for success.
If your vision isn’t crystal clear for everyone, then there’s a problem that needs to be address. Leaders know how to operate their environment into becoming a well-oiled machine.
Confidence & accountability
While it may be a blaring juxtaposition, they truly do go hand in hand. Confidence is needed to lead and accountability is meant to educate.
If a leader has the right amount of confidence, their team will be more inclined to work for them, listen to them and follow their vision. If a leader shows that they are accountable for their faults as well, they’ll earn their trust and eventually loyalty.
Both can be traits that display vulnerability; confidence can be overly exerted and no one likes to admit their wrong, but if balanced together the right way, it will create an equilibrium that drives your entire team.
Confidence in others leads to work getting done while accountability prevents mistakes from repeating themselves.
Leaders can flex their skills as time goes on, much like anything we do, but leadership only improves with practice and time. To be a good leader you must understand your team. To be a great leader, you must understand yourself.