Leadership Article

10 characteristics of effective leaders

Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and they are not limited to a particular industry or to listed companies. An effective leader can be anyone from a politician to a small business owner. However, despite the vast differences in professions and backgrounds, there are certain characteristics all effective leaders have in common. They do not come naturally. Effective leaders develop them.

  1. They have uncompromising integrity. Integrity is essential for any leader because it is the foundation for earning and maintaining trust. In simple terms, integrity means doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching. Moreover, when leaders exhibit integrity, they inspire their team members to do the same, creating a positive and ethical work environment that encourages growth, innovation, and collaboration. Integrity is the foundation for everything good that a leader may do.
     
  2. They have a positive attitude. Effective leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace. Even some simple things like providing treats on a Friday can make the world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.
     
  3. They know how to manage failure and setbacks. No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen. That’s okay; you just need to know how to deal with them. Effective leaders take them in their stride. They remain calm and think logically through the situation. They utilise their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are. This leads to negative morale and fear. Great leaders do in fact lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.
     
  4. They take responsibility. Effective leaders know that when it comes to their company, workplace or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t? The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.
     
  5. They develop those around them. Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognise those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace. Share your knowledge with your team. Give them the opportunity to achieve. You will have their respect and loyalty if you do.
     
  6. They are able to delegate. No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway. Effective leaders recognise that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously reason enough). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your team. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.
     
  7. They know how to communicate. This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for an effective leader. You may very well understand what’s going on inside your head, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else. They can’t all be idiots if this problem seems to be a reoccurring one. The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally. If this is an area you have difficulty with, a good starting point is encouraging communication between team members and establishing an open-door spolicy.
     
  8. They exhibit confidence. All effective leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, and for your judgement. Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going to plan. If you remain calm and poised, so will your team. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high and the problem will be solved more quickly. If you panic and give up, they will know immediately, and things will simply go downhill from there. So be confident.
     
  9. They have a sense of humour. It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humour, particularly when things go wrong. And they will. Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. You need to be able to laugh things off, because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity. Establish this environment prior to any meltdown by encouraging humour.
     
  10. They show commitment. Firstly, you need to stick to your commitments and promises. If you don’t you will come across as an untrustworthy leader and people won’t have any confidence in you. Secondly, you need to be the most committed and hard-working person on the job. You need to lead by example. All effective leaders do this. Why should your staff and team members give it their all if you don’t bother? By proving your own commitment you will inspire others to do the same, as well as earn their respect and instil a good work ethic.

Next steps:
​Rate yourself on each characteristic: On a scale of 1-10, how effective are you? Next, rate yourself from the perspective of your team members. Would they agree with how you have rated yourself? If not, why not? Finally, focus on three points for improvement. Pick out three characteristics to improve in yourself and map out a plan for that improvement.


This leadership article..
was prepared for participants on our acclaimed 10/10 leadership development and mentoring programme. Whether you are a first-time manager or an experienced leader, straightforward, practical advice on best practice is hard to find. Until now. To find out how you and your team can benefit, please contact us.


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