Moving into a leadership role can happen as soon as you enter the workforce, or it can take decades of work to grow into that role. Regardless of when people start to turn to you as a leader, it pays to cultivate the skills and traits that will define you as a leader.
There are a lot of articles out there touting the “7 Unconventional Behaviors of Leaders” or “5 Key Traits of Great Leaders” and they all have valid thoughts on how inspiring leadership operates. However, each leader approaches his or her organization and it’s opportunities and challenges differently. Here are our thoughts on some key ingredients that can help any leader be the best, and most inspiring leader, possible.
Vision, Vision, Vision
This is an underlying principle in the success of any organization. It’s also a business buzzword thrown around by every CEO who either claims to have a vision for his or her organization or holds retreats with senior management to try to come up with one. The best leaders have a vision for their organization baked into the fiber of who they are. They are passionate about achieving their vision and lifting up their staff to share in it and achieve it. Strong leaders also have the confidence to face setbacks and still persevere in the pursuit of their vision.
Think of a handful of the leaders you are inspired by–chances are they have the physical stamina to really keep business humming, staff motivated, and sometimes superhuman energy levels to stay on top of their game and move their agendas forward. Leaders don’t need to be triathletes (though you’d be surprised how many are), but they do need to find ways to stay energized.
No leader can achieve their goals for an organization without staff down in the trenches. Having traits of empathy, taking the blame (when necessary), and giving away the credit (almost always), are all traits of a strong leader. If a leader seeks to inspire, it’s important that their followers or employees know that he or she has their back.
The Ability to Listen…and then to Decide
Here’s a great quote from Colin Powell: “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” A great leader is able to make decisions that solve current, or potential, problems. And the key to making smart decisions is listening to your staff, assessing the information available, and making an educated call.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg; each inspiring leader has an amalgam of traits that make him or her the perfect fit for the role. The four ingredients above are just a great place to start.
Image courtesy of Kromkrathog at freedigitalphotos.net.