Understanding leadership qualities
Being a leader is tough. Being an extraordinary leader is difficult but not impossible.
Being an extraordinary leader takes time, experience, and most significantly, regular self-assessment.
Some of the greatest leadership advice I have been given is that a leader is a learner. Simple but true. Learning is part of the journey of leadership and part of the success of being a leader. Regular self-assessments, asking for detailed feedback, learning through formal courses, or coaching, and setting a clear action plan, are important steps in your leadership journey.
Before you can assess your leadership aptitude you need to understand what the key qualities of leadership are.
- Decision making
A leader will make decisions daily. These decisions impact the team, results, and customers. Being confident in your decision-making abilities solidifies other people’s confidence in your decision making. This confidence builds your credibility as a strong leader.
To be able to make decisions you need to understand how to collect, assess, and understand data. There may be times, when under pressure, you will be required to decide without all the information. Being able to analyse data effectively helps you make better decisions with less.
Strong leaders take responsibility for the decision that make. They own it whether it was a successful or an unsuccessful decision. If the decision was not the right one, they will act immediately and be accountable for both the decision and the solution.
- Vision and strategy
The vision and strategy set the foundations and unifies the business to achieve results. Your vision is the goal of the company and your strategy is the plan to achieve it. The clearer you are on each, the better you can communicate it.
A strong leader will confidently and eloquently articulate the vision creating a higher purpose beyond profit. They will be able to communicate and implement a well thought out strategy with a precise and achievable plan that can be executed. In doing so, they will provide an inclusive and positive work environment and culture.
- Identifying high quality talent
The responsibility of a leader is to build, manage, and retain a high performing team. A team that delivers strong performance, consistently and delivers exceptional results.
For a leader to build and manage high performing teams they need to be able to identify high quality talent, attract them and then retain them.
To identify what high quality talent is, a strong leader needs to understand their workforce’s strengths and capabilities relative to the strategic plan of the business. In identifying the skills and capabilities for their success they have a definition of what high quality talent is for them.
- Manage performance
Managing high performing teams takes motivation and energy. To successfully manage performance a strong leader can communicate the goal and the methodology needed to be performed to achieve that goal. This transparency creates clear direction for team members to perform.
Strong leaders reward and recognise team members who perform well based on the direction of the team and the results that are delivered.
They set the standard and lead by example, managing not only performance but the behaviours that are acceptable or unacceptable to the values of the business. A strong leader has the confidence to have difficult conversations and manages toxic team members that do not align their behaviour or performance to the values of the business.
- Reliability to deliver results
Strong leaders deliver results. They understand the goal, expectations, and vision and stop at nothing to achieve the results.
- Coaching and mentoring
As a leader you are a coach a mentor. Beyond managing the performance of the team your role is to guide and support people to achieve their personal goals.
As a successful coach and mentor, you provide constructive feedback with instructional guidance. With the feedback and guidance your team member can understand, learn, and implement actions that will improve their performance, capabilities, and results.
You want your team members to leave you being stronger than when they joined you.
Over time, change will occur. There may be change in the market, business, people, or technology.
Change is a constant and the quality of adapting to that change is important to be proficient in. You become inherently resilient, innovative, and energised.
A strong leader can acknowledge when change is impending, plan for that change, and turn the challenge to an opportunity. Creating resilience, confidence, and high performance in their teams.
- Learning agility
Learning is leading. Leadership is not a title you are given; it is a quality you earn through effort and focus.
Seeking out and listening to feedback is great for personalised learning. You need to be aware of how you are perceived as a leader as, at times, this can be different to how you perceive yourself. Assess the feedback and take the steps to learn. There are multiple resources and platforms to learn from.
Your learning agility is the effort and focus you invest in your learning. Without learning, your leadership will suffer.
- Delegating tasks
You have strengths in many areas and because of this you have developed your capabilities and aspire to be a leader.
To build a high performing team means attracting, recruiting, and retaining high quality individuals. These individuals will have greater strengths in areas you are weaker in. The team complements each other and because of this, delivers results.
High quality talent will perform better when they have the accountability on their tasks. You will perform better when you delegate tasks that others can do better than you.
Delegating tasks is not losing control, it is understanding that using your team strengths to make you stronger.
- Problem solving
A problem is an opportunity to succeed. As a leader you solve problems for customers, employees, peers, and the business. Your ability to solve a problem that reduces risk and increases opportunity for your customers, employees, and business builds your credibility and reputation as a leader.
- Effective communication
Communication is the most important quality of a leader. Communication that is inclusive, consistent, and positive is effective.
When your employees, peers, and customers are engaged your communication is effective. When people are engaged, they voluntarily get involved in conversation.
As a leader you communicate when providing and receiving feedback, influencing stakeholders and customers, and coaching.
Effective communication is about your responsiveness as much as the language and content that you use to pass a message to an audience.
- Digital acumen
We live in a digital world. Understanding and being confident with technology and digital techniques is important to maintain a competitive advantage.
Being aware of how digital to take your processes, systems, marketing, and communication to a new level of efficiency can make you more effective and productive.
Digital advancements allow for innovation. Innovation allows for creativity and leadership in a competitive landscape.
Many of these qualities you may be demonstrating already. There may be areas you can learn and improve on. Take your time to first assess where you are now and then plan your learning to fill the gaps.
To help you stand out for leadership opportunities implement your learning and become the leader you aspire to be. Your personal brand will accelerate and your credibility as a leader will enhance your opportunities.