There are countless books, videos, webinars, and educational material dedicated to discussing what it takes to be a good leader. While opinions vary on some things, some qualities of good leaders are universally recognized.
Integrity and Honesty
A great leader builds an organization around the values of honesty and integrity. They hold themselves to these values and require the same from their employees. If an organization does not have integrity and honesty at its core, it will not succeed. Honesty and integrity start with leadership and then filter to the rest of the organization. Everyone looks at leadership and takes cues when determining what type of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable.
An effective leader must be trustworthy. You have to know that they are going to tell you the truth and carry themselves in an ethical, honest way. This is the only way that leaders can give their subordinates instructions and have their subordinates believe that there is no hidden agenda behind instructions. Good leaders, like all humans, are imperfect. When they make a mistake, they are not afraid to admit it. This shows their team that they are worthy of trust.
You can see great leaders when you look at their priorities. A great leader will be more interested in what is best for their organization as opposed to their personal gain. They will make decisions with the organization in mind and stick to their commitments. They understand the importance of holding themselves accountable for the decisions and actions they make and want their employees to do the same.
Part of good leadership is being transparent. Employees are not naïve. They can sense when something is not going well with an organization. Leaders that try to put a fake positive spin on organizational difficulties damage their credibility. It is best to be honest and clearly say what is going well and what is wrong. This creates respect and trust.
Good Leaders Are Self-Aware
Good leaders know their strengths and weaknesses. A leader admits their shortcomings and is not afraid to ask for help fixing them. Humility and modesty are leadership traits that humanize leaders. No one does everything right 100% of the time. A leader that pretends that they never make mistakes loses trust and credibility.
A great leader wants dissenting opinions. They want pushback. They don’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of yes people. They understand the importance of challenging conventional thinking, having healthy discussions and debates, and taking steps to move the conversation forward. When things get difficult, when conversations are uncomfortable, and even when a leader’s ideas are challenged, they keep their composure, realizing that achieving the end goal is more important than individual acclaim.
Self-aware leaders trust the people around them to do their job. They give their teams the resources and guidance needed to let them work in a successful and efficient way. An authoritative style can be beneficial in some circumstances, especially when there is a crisis. However, in most cases, helping people accomplish their tasks produces better results.
Good Leaders Have a Clear Vision for the Future
A good leader can see the whole picture and doesn’t get too locked in on specific tasks. They understand everything associated with their industry and organization. As strategic thinkers, they have the ability to identify important trends early. They are not afraid of technology or change. They embrace new yet proven ideas, like creating customized eLearning solutions. They communicate the benefits of these new ideas to their team, getting them to buy into the leader’s vision.
A strong leader can quickly identify their target customer, knows the value of what the company is offering, and can accept their organization’s competitive weakness. They focus on improving core competencies of the organization and creating skills and capabilities that make the organization strong today while setting up to have a strong future.
Good Leaders Build Strong Organizations
Good leaders establish clear goals for the organization. They provide clear reasons for the decisions that they make. People feel comfortable around them because they know they are cared for. At the end of the day, good leaders build strong organizations.