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Published on May 7, 2020

9 Most Essential Leadership Attributes of a Great Leader

9 Most Essential Leadership Attributes of a Great Leader

Great leaders are like mirrors. What they want to see in their team they often exhibit in themselves, even if that means facing things they’d prefer not to.

Can a handful of leadership attributes define every great leader? Or could you have a combination of many skills and still be a great leader?

Could a leader really change the course of a company, team, or even an individual’s happiness and success? And what’s the big deal about leadership anyway if you don’t have a team to lead?

According to LinkedIn[1], there’s a 76% chance of an employee still being at a company after 12 months, however by year three that drops to 48%!

Worryingly, 89% of employers think employees leave because of money, when only 12% actually do[2]

Furthermore, reportedly over a third of employees are actively or casually looking for a new job right now. In the US alone, employers spend $2.9M per day looking for replacement workers. That’s $1.1B per year!

A leader can make or break so much, including:

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  • Productivity
  • Creativity
  • Profitability
  • Health
  • Happiness
  • Education

The list is long, and when you consider someone will actively look to search a company’s attitude toward staff happiness before they start working for them, you can see that leadership is something that can impact everyone.

Even if you aren’t currently a leader, these 9 attributes could improve your success, happiness, and health.

1. Respect

Anyone that has tried to demand respect from a teenager will know that it rarely works to force it. If you want respect, you must give it first.

Staff that feel respected work harder, and while it may be easy to know what this attribute looks like, it can be hard in a fast-paced environment to know how to give it. The following attributes all help you prove you have respect for others and learn to gain it.

2. Visionary

If you want to be a great leader, you need to share your vision and mission. The key is to not only share it but to be prepared to let your team rewrite it to help them feel like they have a say in the mission. This will create a deeper emotional connection to the outcome of their work.

Furthermore, sometimes another person can see a way of redefining your vision that speaks clearer to everyone from staff, customers, competitors, and communities.

A company I coached was asked, “What is your mission?” and while everyone had a vague idea of what they stood for, everyone used different words to describe it. By letting everyone be heard and have their say, the company became far more laser-focused on delivering a message that resonated with their perfect customers and helped the team to feel connected to all outcomes, even if their department wasn’t directly involved.

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3. Communication

There is so much to say around communication and leadership that I could have written the whole article around this! Many companies I work with tend to create communication policies, clearly defined ways of communicating and ensuring whatever anyone wishes to communicate is allowed in a non-judgmental, respected way.

If you have people you work with who lack confidence or fear for their job, it’s hard for them to come forward and say “I think we are getting this wrong” or “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m not enjoying my job.” Job satisfaction has become increasingly important with the advent of websites where you can rate employers on how they impact people’s career decisions.

Communication policies also enable leaders to achieve more because they don’t’ have to micro manage every decision, and people feel confident and comfortable to take the initiative.

4. Transparency

Great leaders, while they may fear being honest and transparent, find ways to overcome this. Interestingly, when I’ve seen CEOs admit they don’t know the answer or are struggling with their work load, instead of their team being horrified and running for the hills, it tends to lead to greater honesty from everyone. And if you can see what’s wrong, it’s easier to fix it, right?

If you know others are struggling with what you hate doing, you are more likely to reach out and ask for help. Transparency, honesty, and a great communication policy enable this.

5. Passion

Leaders should get excited and feel passionate about the outcomes they are searching for with their team.

Leaders can be honest and share their vulnerability when it is linked to strong passion. Leaders that are great communicators of what they believe in and showcase their faith in themselves, their teams, and their companies inspire and motivate teams to believe, too.

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Passion creates passion. As someone who creates a lot of Facebook Lives for people having a tough day and looking for motivation, I know that when we share our passion and faith in what is possible, others buy into that. It’s good for us all.

So if you look behind you and discover that there is a group of people following you, they probably bought into your passion and want to learn more, so look to let your passion shine through everything you do, have faith in the outcomes, and trust you can achieve it.

6. Ability to Fail

Failure is so important to leadership. It’s great to see leaders that inspire and motivate and talk a great game, but you can really spot a great leader when failure is imminent. They don’t fear failure[3]; they look to learn from it.

It is scary to do this, and sometimes companies end up creating a “them and us” and blame ethos if failings aren’t handled well. Therefore, seeing a leader that can put their hands up and say “I got this wrong” is a powerful thing. It lacks arrogance and ego, which rarely work well for great leaders.

Being open to failure also leads to new discoveries and opportunities. I worked with a company that were struggling to bond as a team, and by rewriting what the company stood for, they were able to move forward in a powerful way. The irony was that this was created by looking at the mission statement of the company.

Someone shouted out in our group coaching session, “It doesn’t even say we care!” This led to a great conversation where the team member (who rarely spoke up) explained how one of the things they loved about the company was that they genuinely cared, and yet no one ever talked about that. Because the leader was able to take that one on board and go in a new direction, it led to great things.

7. Encouraging

Encouraging leaders are like coaches in that they enable people to speak up, be honest, take ownership, be accountable, and feel honored and respected. People often think that just listening is encouraging, but it’s not. Encouraging in the style of a coach is a form of communication that enables a deep level of conversation that breaks down fears, insecurities, confidence issues, and barriers to change.

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If you want to be a great leader, become a great coach first. It is a style of communication that I can hand on heart say impacts every communication and relationship I have—all for the positive. Be respectful of the coaching process and learn the skills and key questions and strategies to make this work. Everyone can coach to some level with a bit of education, practice, and feedback.

8. Goal-Oriented

When you’ve listened to and encouraged your team, being able to share clear goals is imperative. Whether it’s being a leader of a basketball team, a parent, a CEO or Scout leader, it’s not enough to create goals that you expect everyone to get on board with.

When your team feels they are valued in their opinions, their engagement increases. Engagement leads to recognition, and this leads to accelerated success: value your team and they will value what you stand for and aim to achieve and help you achieve it, often without additional financial incentive.

I’ve seen companies where they honestly believed the only solution was more money, more staff, and more investment. In the end, the only investment they actually had was in coaching, which enabled the company, the team, and the individuals to all feel that they mattered to the end results, which led them to work hard to achieve it.

9. Adaptable

We all face hardship and tough times, and the leader that can bounce back and adapt to ever-changing environments, challenges, and obstacles is the leader that people want to be with. You don’t have to know all the answers; by tapping into the other 8 attributes, you have the skills as a leader to bounce back from anything.

I’ve been in many a packed room where I know I’m there as the sacrificial lamb to prove “We’ve tried everything,” only for the team to come together and discover the power in these attributes and find a more productive and successful way of operating that has secured the future of the organization.

Seeing a sea of angry faces offloading their frustrations on me instead of their leader is (I’m not going to lie) a little scary; however, using the above skills, they have been able to break down the barriers to change and create new ways of thinking and operating to make everyone’s job a lot easier and create some happiness along the way.

More Tips on Leadership Attributes

Featured photo credit: Fabio Rodrigues via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

International Coach, Best Selling Author & Speaker inspiring people around the world to success.

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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