True leaders go beyond merely managing a team or projects; they inspire trust in those they work with. Effective leaders can not only manage those who work for and with them, but also to be able to inspire to help their team grow, adapt and thrive. There are those who believe leaders are born, not made; however, there are key skills that if honed, can create a successful leader.
A Harvard Business Review survey conducted with Georgetown University of nearly 20,000 global employees ranked respect as the most important leadership behavior. There are two different types of respect: owed respect — signified by civility and the belief that everyone is valuable — and earned respect — a recognition of individuals who display valued behaviors. Leaders who are a balance of both types of respect, create an atmosphere where employees feel most productive.
The way we do business is evolving as quickly as technology. A good leader needs to be flexible and able to adapt to effectively meet the needs of their team, clients and organization. The ability to adapt to changing needs provides a sense of security in a changing workplace and signifies to team members that their leader has their back and can adapt to shifting tides.
Plainly put, no one likes people who fake it. Regardless of the topic, if you can’t walk the walk, you can’t effectively lead. Demonstrating equivalence in your values and actions is the very core of authenticity. Think about the last time you were inspired listening to a speech or presentation from someone whose voice and message resonated with you. Authenticity is more than just the what, it includes the why.
Commitment is about the drive to make something work, despite challenges along the way. Leaders who have strong convictions attract like-minded coworkers and team members. In the book “The Five Commitments of a Leader,” author Mark Leheney lists five types of commitments of leadership as commitments to self, people, organization and the truth. He asserts that a team will buy into a leader before they buy into a vision.
As technology continues to rapidly change, we are multi-tasking more than ever, and the way we communicate has become increasingly more lenient and casual. But one thing remains evergreen and that is that good communication is a key skill needed by leaders. Nothing should be inferred, assumed, or confusing when it comes to communicating expectations, giving feedback or outlining goals. Leaders should strive for clear, open and consistent communication to inspire their team.
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” People want to work for ethical people, and when employees know that their leader works with integrity, they know they are looking out for their best interest and the best interest of the organization. Integrity can look like doing the hard thing, because it’s the right thing, but it can also be apologizing when you’ve made a mistake.
The key to leadership, is understanding your strengths and learning how to work to them. Many of these key qualities are found in successful leaders and come naturally, while others might need to be honed. As the modern workplaces continues to evolve, so must leaders in the workplace. And leadership is very much the journey and not the destination. As you continue to hone your leadership skills, think about what traits you have valued in others along your career path, and apply them to your leadership toolbox.