Just about anyone can be placed in a leadership role, but position alone doesn’t turn a person into a leader. At the same time, anyone can be a successful leader if they fine-tune their traits and leadership skills. While the journey to become a great leader is long, business professionals can start early by developing certain vital traits, like the ones mentioned in this article.
What makes for effective leadership?
Effective leadership is when a person or a group of people can get individuals aligned and working towards the same desired outcome. The best leaders know their team and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, leaders can acknowledge their own faults.
According to Mo.Work, the definition of leadership and management couldn’t be more different. A manager is someone who takes control of a group, but that isn’t always a bad thing. A great, team-focused manager can rally the troops and follow through on their leader’s creative ideas.
Trait vs. skill: What’s the difference?
“Trait” and “Skill” are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. Traits are what we’re born with, and skills are what we learn through practice. While you can develop a trait or allow a trait to manifest in different ways, it’s difficult for someone to be what they aren’t.
For example, we consider creativity to be associated with the arts. We’ll call someone who can paint well creative, but a person who thinks up a new business idea is also creative. However, if a person is artistically creative, they may not be able to use this skill to create a new business.
What traits are found in great leaders?
A great leader takes responsibility for their leadership because they know that what they do will have an effect on their team.
The following four traits are typically found in natural leaders.
Trustworthy people are honest, consistent, respectful, caring, and selfless. Being good-looking can also make you appear more trustworthy, as the Halo Effect makes us assume that an attractive person is a strong leader. If people trust you, they’re more likely to follow you.
A stable person is naturally calm and reasonable and unlikely to be unpredictable. Stable leaders are able to create a space where people feel psychologically safe to share their ideas and address concerns. By responding consistently to questions, you appear more stable.
Compassionate leaders are caring and see their team members as more than a number. They recognize that their team members have individual thoughts, feelings, and goals. The best leaders can react calmly and empathetically when their followers aren’t motivated.
Hope for the future is difficult to teach. Our minds are hardwired for negativity, but leaders tend to be positive despite it. They’re also able to inspire others to see a brighter future through their own attitude. Teams love to follow people who are enthusiastic but realistic most of the time.
Trust, stability, compassion, and hope share many similarities. That’s because a naturally hopeful and compassionate person is more likely to be stable and trustworthy, and vice-versa. These personality traits also make it easier to learn key leadership skills in the next section.
What skills are found in inspiring leaders?
As mentioned, skills are developed over time but are aided by a person’s traits. If you have the natural traits of a strong leader, there’s a high possibility you’ll adopt the following skills quickly.
1. Relationship building
Leaders wouldn’t exist if they didn’t have a team to lead, which is why relationship-building skills are key. A leader needs to find the best way to connect different types of people and help them trust each other. Leaders do this by recognizing each individual’s unique values and strengths.
2. Agility and adaptability
Agility and adaptability are practically necessary for today’s fast-paced economy, but leaders have to take charge when change is inevitable. Internal and external factors can affect your industry at a moment’s notice. To maintain a competitive edge, leaders must be swift.
3. Employee motivation
We’re naturally motivated to achieve our own goals, but we become disengaged if our employer doesn’t consider them important. Leaders have to do two things to combat this: be appreciative of their employees’ contributions and provide relevant, timely, and constructive feedback.
4. Innovation and creativity
Most people are creative; they just don’t know how to use this trait. Even if they aren’t great at coming up with ideas, they should at least encourage innovation in their staff. Don’t shut down ideas or limit your team’s communication. Foster their talents and give credit where it’s due.
5. Conflict management
Conflicts are going to happen no matter how effectively a person leads. While it’s in your best interest to identify a potential conflict before it starts, that’s not always in your control. Therefore, a great leader should mitigate or resolve a conflict before it affects the business negatively.
6. Critical thinking
Critical thinking is a big part of decision-making, but a person can be decisive and still make the wrong decisions. A leader can weigh the pros and cons of a decision and stand by what they choose. If things don’t go as planned, they’ll admit their mistakes and adjust accordingly.
An incredible negotiator is also a great leader because they’re able to make two or more people with different ideals mutually agree on the best outcome. Leaders ensure that everyone involved is happy, or at least content, with the proposed solution, as these steps reduce future conflict.
No one is born a leader, but certain traits make it more likely you’ll succeed in a leadership role. That’s because traits like trust, stability, and hope make it easier to learn key skills, like critical thinking, negotiation, and adaptability. A growth mindset can help you be a leader at any age.