By Mark A. Leon
Great leaders are not born, nor invented, but are harnessed through experiences, learning, environmental exposure and ideals of excellence. These men and women that invoke respect and admiration from their colleagues and peers have earned this through success, respect, loyalty and the ability to inspire.
What sets these individuals apart from the rest? What truly defines a great leader in an age where ethics and values too often get compromised?
These qualities will paint a very visual picture and as the colors blend together, a creation will form laying the masterpiece of the core values of great leadership.
If you can achieve these five core qualities/traits of a great leader, your future will be paved with achievement.
Great Leadership Traits
Be Yourself: Your True Self – Too often, we feel we need to wear two hats, personal and professional. The perception that the life outside of work must remain isolated from the life inside the office is one that clouds the ability to create loyalty, partnership and trust in an organization. A truly inspiring leader is a person that lets his people know all he/she is. From the great to the bad, transparency builds trust. It is that ability to open yourself up as a human being with emotion, harnessed and raw, that provides others with the feeling of community. No team will ever succeed without collaboration, innovation and trust. Being yourself is the first step to an open environment of sharing and teamwork.
Challenge your people – Human behavior is teased with routine and addiction. We are surrounded by binge TV, apps, games, addictive behavior and the comfort of doing what we know repeatedly. It is often our downfall. When a new processes or technology is introduced, getting the masses to take on a new way of thinking can be the most difficult act of a leader, but a necessary one. A great leader will continuously challenge and promote change. Change is constant and necessary. It is the foundation of growth. Without it, others take over the reign and you soon become a forgotten commodity.
Be open to failure – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently said, “our company is the greatest company in the world at failure”. A CEO of one of the largest brands on the planet was bragging about failure. Brilliant leadership. The ability to fail means you are willing to take risk. If you focus on the great design and brand heavy companies; Apple, Google, McDonalds, Samsung, IBM and more, you will see a common trend: failure. At Google, they may test 1000 products before hitting a home run and they are okay with that. The ability to accept and “promote” failure is a sign of great leadership, because you are putting the future in the hands of those you trust and are willing to take accountability for their risks.
Solicit Feedback – in one way or another, we all go through performance assessments. Some formal, some informal. Some annual, some quarterly. They are a necessary evil, but do serve value. A strong leader takes the next step. He/she will constantly look to those in the heart of a project and learn from them. Leaders cannot be in every place at every time, so they must rely on honest evaluation from their teams to help understand what changes and adjustments need to be made.
Trust your team – Trust is earned. Trust is an element of a much greater good. The greatest leaders will do the follow:
- Build a team of diverse thoughts and ideas
- Welcome open and constant feedback
- Let teams take risks and be open to failure
- Trust in their skills and abilities
- Be there for advice and counsel
- Take pride in their team’s successes
- Reward and recognize excellence
All these things build trust. Trust leads to loyalty. Loyalty leads to strength of team. A strong team drives results.
There you have it, the traits of a great leader. Where do you stand?