The portrait of a great leader looks a little different to each of us. When we get down to it, though, many of the characteristics we expect from our leaders are fairly universal and timeless, when it comes to the employee-manager relationship, it turns out most of the workforce stands in agreement on some of the best qualities they want to see in the people they report to. Here are just a few of them.
1. The Ability to Listen, Genuinely
There is an unmet need in the modern workforce when it comes to leaders who can listen. Despite being a priority for 88 percent of surveyed employees, only 60 percent of those employees felt their current leader or boss exhibited that trait.
Where does that leave us? In all honesty, it means you need the right people as leaders — even if it isn't necessarily you. The leaders that work most closely with the greatest number of people are the ones you want speaking and listening for your company. Apart from being a morale-booster for your teams and employees, there's real measurable value in leaders who know how to listen — including generating potentially great and profitable ideas.
Of course, opening yourself up to constructive criticism and suggestions is another challenge entirely. That brings us to our second point.
2. The Willingness to Give Credit Where It's Due
There's probably no counting the number of lawsuits that involved uncredited ideas, inventions, artwork, musical numbers, and much more.
Having an environment that fosters experimentation and actually taking the time to create a company "ideas channel" are two of the best ways to uncover new opportunities and innovations for your company. However, employees need more than just a sympathetic ear. They need to know they'll be credited appropriately for that idea, even if all that's really needed is a shout-out at the next all-hands meeting.
To be sure, there are legal considerations too, as we've alluded to. However, if coming up with great ideas and elevating them is a part of your company's meritocracy and advancement process, you probably don't have to worry about that.
3. The Ability to Adapt to Their Team
In some circumstances, it's probably a good thing that employees and teams tend to remake themselves in their leader's image. In many other places, though, don't you think you lose something there? Isn't the adaptation working in the wrong direction?
A lot has been said and written about great leaders who surrounded themselves with people who helped them see their blind spots, who brought new perspectives and who, more often than not, worked in a different fashion — even if their endpoint and goals were the same. It seems like a great leader might do well to become a chameleon of sorts.
With few exceptions, no work style is necessarily bad or good. A leader or boss should give their team members space, within reason, to discover the workflows, schedules, processes, and tools that work best for them. The result is preservation of team harmony and a certain rigorous individuality in how your employees pursue their work. It also means you'll develop not one fixed management strategy but rather a subtly tailor-made one for each person on the team.
4. Infectious Passion
It doesn't matter what line of work you're in — employees need to know their leaders are as invested in what's going on as they expect their employees to be. If you're a leader yourself or even the founder or president of a company, you got there for a reason. It can't have been a mistake. Why were you passionate about what you do? Failing that, how can you go about cultivating a better love for what you do even if you don't feel prepared for or inclined toward it?
There's a part of the grander picture here that your employees really need to be able to count on. You have a vision for the company and you want them to have one, too — but you need to communicate that passion using a richer language than earnings figures and other benchmarks. You presumably want to leave some kind of mark on the world. If that mark is hazy, indistinct or comes from a leader without a zeal for what they do, you can't expect the rest of the company to feel very invested either.
5. Unimpeachable Integrity
Psychology tells us there's a certain instinct in human beings when it comes to looking for role models. From an early age in school to coaches, professors, co-workers, and eventually bosses and other kinds of leaders, we look for behavior we feel is worth emulating. Regrettably, all of us who strive toward positivity and good integrity in business and life, even if we fail sometimes, seem to be up against impossible odds. Our culture and even entertainment seem to reward brutishness and underhandedness.
As leaders, we can try to cultivate something different in the workplace. Integrity means treating everybody with respect uncompromisingly, not cutting corners, and maintaining a certain zeal for life even when not everything is ideal.
6. Effective Communication Skills
Leaders must have strong communication skills to effectively convey their vision, expectations, and feedback to their teams. Clear and concise communication helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures everyone is on the same page. When leaders can clearly articulate their goals and provide clear instructions, it enables employees to understand what is expected of them and how their work contributes to the overall success of the company.
In addition to verbal communication, written communication skills are also crucial for leaders. They need to be able to write emails, memos, and other forms of written communication that are clear, professional, and easy for others to understand. Strong writing skills allow leaders to convey complex ideas in a way that is accessible to all team members.
Furthermore, effective communication involves active listening. Leaders who actively listen demonstrate respect for their employees' perspectives and ideas. By listening attentively without interrupting or dismissing others' opinions, leaders foster an environment where open dialogue can thrive.
7. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
Great leaders understand the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence in building strong relationships with their employees. They recognize that each individual has unique needs, motivations, strengths, and challenges.
Empathy allows leaders to connect with their employees on a deeper level by understanding their emotions and experiences. It involves showing genuine care for others' well-being and being sensitive to their feelings. By demonstrating empathy in both personal interactions and decision-making processes, leaders create a supportive environment where employees feel valued as individuals.
Emotional intelligence goes hand-in-hand with empathy as it involves recognizing one's own emotions as well as those of others. Leaders with high emotional intelligence can regulate their own emotions effectively while also understanding how emotions impact team dynamics. This enables them to make informed decisions based on rationality rather than being driven solely by emotions.
By cultivating empathy and emotional intelligence within themselves, leaders can foster trust among team members while promoting collaboration, innovation, and overall employee well-being.
Looking for leadership inspiration?
Meet our iProv leaders: Patrick Laughin (CEO), Jordan Smith (VP of Sales and Marketing), and Sarah Olds (VP of Product). They embody the qualities that make great leaders!
Navigate Leadership Transition with Ease
Are you ready to navigate the transition to effective leadership? Schedule a free consultation with iProv and discover how we can help your executives keep employees happy and confident. Contact us today! During our consultation, we'll discuss the unique challenges your organization is facing and provide tailored solutions to help your leadership thrive during times of transition. Our expert team at iProv understands the importance of maintaining employee satisfaction and confidence in executives.
Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your leadership skills and create a positive work environment. Schedule your free consultation with iProv today and take the first step toward successful leadership!