Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to work with many leaders n different sized organizations, for-profit and not-for-profit. The basic fact is that some leaders are just more effective than others. And I’ve really tried to think about what distinguishes some and not others. What traits might help someone become a top-notch all-around leader? I tried to whittle it down to some that in my opinion make the most difference. So here are just a few of the traits that I think make a good leader.
- Be a Visionary
This is truly one of the biggest abilities a leader can have. The ability to know your market and what it takes to provide value to customers and compete successfully, know your organization – it’s strengths and weaknesses, and the ability to always be looking ahead.
One way to look ahead is to continue to learn. And of course that can take various forms. It can be through product and service knowledge, gaining market knowledge through industry seminars, conferences, and educational opportunities, networking with others in and out of your industry, and having openness with your team (more on that below).
- Confident Decision Maker
Sometimes a leader just has to be willing to take the bull by the horns and make a decision. You should hear others’ opinions and ideas. You should appreciate analysis. You should consider alternatives. But in the end one of the things that makes a leader special is his or her ability to simply decide.
Too often we get caught up in the analysis, the discussions, the debate. I appreciate a leader who in engaged in all that…and then makes the call. The easier part is thinking about the decision, the more difficult part – and one that distinguishes a leader – is the ability to make the decision.
- Clear Communicator
The ability to say what you want to say clearly is truly invaluable. Every opportunity to communicate is an opportunity to guide and direct. And if you fall short it can make whoever you’re trying to communicate with doubt you and your ability. Do not let that happen! Always consider the key point(s) you are trying to communicate. Keep it as simple as possible. Use correct grammar and punctuation. Have a confident voice and make eye contact.
For me that worn-out old excuse that these things don’t matter is just false. It’s a cop-out and you know it. If it’s worth communicating, it’s worth communicating clearly and directly. Get your point across.
Think about the times that you’ve listened to someone and said to yourself: “Stop rambling and get to the point already!” or “What the heck is this guy talking about?”. Did you walk away feeling that this person was a real leader? The ability to communicate is a mark of a good leader.
- Part of the Team
When it comes to relationships with their staff I’ve noticed how much leaders can differ. Some are more aloof and have little interaction with their employees. Some get down in the details with staff members; getting to know the details of their lives, the minutiae of their work details (and troubles they might have). To be honest, in general I don’t see either of these extremes to be particularly successful.
In my opinion a leader who gets to know his or her employees, respects them and their work, strives to listen to them and their concerns, appreciates and celebrates their successes, and is willing to jump in and lend a hand is the type of leader that succeeds. Be approachable. Be personable. Be a team player. Be yourself. It will go a very long way.
- The Ability to Focus
An organization’s leader has so many things pulling at him or her. There is a seemingly never-ending stream of distractions. A really solid leader knows that, accepts it, tries to minimize it when possible, and finds time to focus on the issue at hand.
I’ve been in many discussions and meetings with managers and executives over the years, and one thing I’ve observed is that those that put away the phone, are great listeners, ask insightful questions, limit irrelevant side conversations, and focus on what we’re discussing also seem to be the ones that are most successful. I am always impressed when someone can zero in and focus on the important things.
Are these ALL the important traits of a good leader? Probably not. But these are definitely sone of the top ones. The big questions is: How much of yourself do you see in my descriptions? Where would you put yourself on the scale for each trait? Are you distracted or are you able to focus? Are you truly a good listener? Do you see yourself as part of the team or simply as its director? I suggest that you work hard this year to strengthen each of these traits as much as you can. It will help you grow as a professional and it will make for a healthier business too.
Please feel free to reach out and get in touch and let’s explore how I can help you and your business succeed. No pressure. Just an informal discussion to explore some ideas. You can reach me at (713) 907-8429 or BCohen@IDiscoverConsulting.comI hope you are enjoying these blog posts If so, please help spread the word. Tell others about IDiscover Consulting Group and my blog. Share these posts. Comment on them. I’d really love to hear your ideas!