Great leaders inspire others and have some traits in common. Here are the top five things you must do to become an even more effective leader.

1. Be humble.

One of the greatest lessons we can learn from the example Gandhi set is how to be humble. Although he was from a powerful family, he sat with his fellow man and led people by example, inspiring great devotion from his followers. He pushed for real change, without violence, and successfully brought in sweeping changes.

Often, egos get in the way of people with power and prevent them from realizing their full potential. The more senior the leader, the more likely this is. Leaders can become focused on playing an important role, and forget why they were put into a position of leadership in the first place. The ability to serve others and learn things from people you might not otherwise come into contact with is important. To understand what people in your business are thinking, spend time with them on a regular basis.  Remember that because they serve your customers directly, their insights can be critical and provide you with ideas for how to do your job better than ever. The more you are seen, the more they will trust you and share.

2. Show empathy.

The ability to show empathy is very important in any leader. Understanding the unique challenges, skills and talents each person on your team has, will help you to plan your workforce strategy which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. You can’t fake empathy, it has to be genuine. Knowing when people need support and providing it, will pay off many times in loyalty. It can also help you recruit others to your company, by having a loyal employee base who will refer their friends and family.

3. Listen

Listening is truly under-rated in today’s world. People are so distracted by hundreds of emails and other interruptions that they often forget to hear what is being said to them. Sometimes we get wrapped up in conveying our view, and guess what we think others are going to say, by saying it ourselves. Yet what we say is often not what they had on their minds at all. When a leader does not listen well, people stop sharing new ideas because they don’t feel that what they say matters. Listening to your colleagues, team and managers will help you build a stronger and more meaningful relationship with others around you.

4. Communicate

Strong leaders share news, good and bad. They know that when things are tough, the best approach it to tell people what to expect, and when things are good, it’s important to celebrate. People need to know what is happening, and why. If you are experiencing problems that could affect profitability or people’s jobs, they need to know. The tendency to keep information within the executive suite is a dangerous one, because it undermines trust. When employees find out information from sources outside the company, or are the last to know critical information that affects them, they feel let down by leadership. Communicating key information often to all employees is a way to stay in touch with your team and to get real time feedback from everyone who works in your organization.

5. Be patient

Some CEO’s are under enormous pressure to deliver results fast. Most leaders are. But the temptation to make knee jerk decisions and react immediately should be tempered by taking a thoughtful approach to any action and considering the implications of any bold decision.  Taking the time to do some blue sky thinking and turning it into strong strategic and practical plans will give you a major lead on your competitors who are more likely making snap decisions.

Featured photo credit: LauraRandell via join.deathtothestockphoto.com

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