Effective leaders have many positive attributes that make them successful—some of those characteristics are common in all great leaders, while others are unique to the individual. Who in your life has inspired you the most? Is it your pastor? A community figure? A beloved teacher? Whoever the person, and whatever the venue, a strong leader is able to make a lasting and positive influence on others.
I have chosen to address the topic of leadership strictly from a business perspective. Accomplished managers and executives can have a tremendous impact on their staff, both on a professional and a personal level. Generally speaking, all professional leaders must learn and develop many skills and talents to achieve success. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list of all strengths a leader might need at any given time. It is, however, an overview of elements that are common to every effective leadership style. So what differentiates the successful leaders from the less capable ones?
They know how to motivate others
Successful leaders have the ability to spur people into action. They have energy and charisma, which they use to inspire others. They are able to set a positive example for those around them and encourage staff to put forth an honest effort. Good leaders do not ask others to do what they themselves are not willing to do. Instead, they “walk the walk”—motivating their team with both words and actions.
They know how to organize
Effective leaders are able to identify and organize all internal and external resources available to them. They consciously avoid clutter of both mind and environment. Strong leaders are able to sort through ideas, make an action plan, and then put the right people in the right roles to get the job done. They are aware of any task that remains undone, are able to retrieve necessary information at any time, and are attentive to detail. For these leaders, it is not a question of if something can be done, it’s how it can be done.
They know how to prioritize
At the start of any workday, a good leader can check the agenda and know immediately which tasks are pressing and which can wait. Even on days when they feel pressured to give every task and project equal attention, competent leaders are able to maintain focus and identify exactly where to start. They are also confident that, at the end of the day, they have not allowed themselves to be distracted from important issues or defer to anyone else’s agenda.
They know how to educate
Rather than berate, exceptional leaders prefer to educate. Individuals in the workplace can count on a good leader to spend some time explaining the task at hand and providing an appropriate level of guidance along the way. They will not only identify the overall goal, but also ensure that each step of the process is clearly understood. When a competent leader sees a team member falling short of expectations, he or she will address the error while still taking time to discuss how to avoid future mistakes.
They know how to delegate
Even the most impressive leaders cannot accomplish everything on their own. Intelligent leaders know the value of cultivating a team they can trust. Appropriate delegation boosts the esteem level of employees, which increases the chance of achieving good results. Confidence in the team is crucial because it allows the leader to focus on the things that only he or she can handle—without feeling the need to micromanage. Savvy leaders know this, and are careful to be economical with their time.
Think back to the bosses, CEO’s, and other workplace authority figures who have made a lasting impression upon you. What was it about them that stood out to you? It’s likely you can identify more skills and talents than were addressed in this article, but odds are that all of the above elements appear on the list, too. The end result is that successful leaders know how to use their abilities and play to their strengths. The best ones will then share this knowledge with you, so that you can reach your full potential as well.
Featured photo credit: leadership via flickr.com