In order to be an effective leader, you need to take stock of your leadership qualities and how they impact your team, group, or organization as a whole. Below are three key areas of self-evaluation to keep in mind when assessing your leadership qualities.
An important part of evaluating your leadership qualities is identifying your leadership traits. While opinions differ on what personality characteristics define effective leaders, research has found several commonalities among them. Specifically, a 1980 study involving 60 Fortune 500 executives and 30 executives from the public sector found that successful leaders shared six core qualities: creativity, dedication, humility, integrity, magnanimity, and openness.
- Creativity - Leaders are able to "think outside the box" and consider different approaches to solving problems.
- Dedication - Leaders possess a strong vision and demonstrate a commitment to achieving goals.
- Humility - Leaders understand that they are not inherently superior to their subordinates.
- Integrity - Leaders make decisions that align not only with the values and vision of the organization, but also with their personal values.
- Magnanimity - Leaders are gracious in defeat and give credit where it's due.
- Openness - Leaders are able to consider the ideas of others without judgement.
Another key aspect of assessing your leadership qualities is understanding your leadership style. While leadership styles vary across different organizations, and even within an organization, styles of leadership often change according to different situations, tasks, or environments. Experts have observed four styles of leadership among top-level executives and managers: coaching, delegating, directing, and supporting.
- Coaching - Highly supportive and welcome feedback from their subordinates.
- Delegating - Foster their subordinates' sense of self-reliance by leading in a non-directive capacity.
- Directing - Operate in a high-directive capacity, telling subordinates exactly how, when, and where tasks should be completed.
- Supporting - Lead in a highly-supportive, yet low-directive capacity that demonstrates concern for the well-being of their employees.
While the above is simply one model for distinguishing different types of leaders, it provides a framework within which to examine your attitudes about your employees, their abilities, and how the work should be done. While these are common, they have varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the situation and the frequency with which they are used.
A leader's behavioral style has a significant impact on the effectiveness of the entire group, team, or organization. Leadership behavioral styles fall into three distinct types: authoritarian, democratic, and laissez-faire. As with leadership styles, leadership behaviors vary according to the situation, environment, group, or task.
- Authoritarian - An authoritarian leader assigns specific tasks to subordinates while retaining authority and responsibility.
- Democratic - Democratic leaders consult with employees when assigning tasks, but still retains authority and responsibility.
- Laissez-faire - The lasses-faire leader assumes little to no responsibility, instead letting their subordinates make decisions without leader interference.
Analyzing your behaviors, personality traits, and leadership style is the key to improving your skills as a leader. Use the guide above to assess your current leadership qualities and identify areas for improvement.