You often hear the expression 'that person is a born leader' but what are the leadership qualities that define a good leader, and can they be learned and honed? Certainly a leader has to be able to make decisions and issue orders, but true leadership goes much deeper. It's one thing to be able to speak up and tell someone what to do. But it's a whole different thing to be able to inspire them to want to do it and to effectively convey the importance of what everyone is working towards. Being a great leader benefits from, and in many ways requires, these three leadership qualities:
Understanding other people
This doesn't mean a leader needs to be soft or cuddly. Some leaders are like that in how they deal with people, while others possess a more distant thoughtful disposition. But all types understand the drives and motivations of their employees, as that is key to knowing how to keep them on board with the company's goals. That doesn't mean they will always like your decisions, but you will know why you are taking them and how to explain it in terms others will understand.
Seeing the bigger picture
Some people, when told something within their domain is no longer a priority, cannot cope with it because that is their pet baby. They cannot see the bigger picture or broaden their interests to become involved at a higher level. These people are by no means invaluable – far from it – but they are leaders only in so far as they lead specialist teams by virtue of their knowledge and experience. They are leaders within a narrow groove that is their field of expertise. But their leadership ability is restricted to that range, and they usually need someone above them to give direction. A true leader does not restrict themselves in this way, but seeks to always see the bigger picture and is ready to shift gears if need be. They do not become attached to one area or course of action if it is no longer serving the larger goal.
Building great teams
Not all leadership qualities are immediately apparent to an outside observer. Valuable qualities like projecting confidence, conveying ideas, and making people feel valued are visibly apparent and are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of some famous leaders. But one of the most effective qualities a leader needs is barely apparent at all until you think about it – the ability to select talented people and build great teams. Great leaders don't do everything by themselves. They are far too ambitious to be limited to what one person can achieve. That is why they gather the most talented people they can find and build great teams that do great things.
By recognizing and developing these crucial leadership qualities all leaders can improve their ability to inspire and motivate their team and the company employees that depend on them.