10 Characteristics That Define Great Leadership

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When you’re a great leader, you make things happen. Waiting for trouble to find you just isn’t in your nature. You hunt down potential problems and solve them preemptively. You learn from the experience and use your newfound knowledge to improve the process moving forward.

These are just a few characteristics that define a great leader.

Luckily, great leadership isn’t a skill you have to be born with -- it can be learned. Here are our top 10 leadership tips to help you become the kind of leader people want to follow:

1. Keep Calm And Carry On

Great leaders don’t panic or blow up when things don’t go their way. They stay calm under pressure. When you keep your cool, you’re able to think more clearly and make rational decisions that coincide with your strategic goals.

2. Learn To Think Ahead

One of the characteristics of a great leader is the ability to see the big picture. You don't need a crystal ball. You just have to envision future goals and plot the necessary course to achieve them in the coming years. When you have a long-term plan in place, you can set more productive short-term goals where every move you make is designed to propel you towards your ultimate end goal.

3. Stay Organized

With so much on the go, it can be a challenge to keep track of all the moving parts, people and priorities in your day. One small oversight today could lead to massive problems further down the road. Great leadership requires strong organizational skills -- and every little effort helps -- from the employment of simple spreadsheets to adopting more advanced tools like our own Strategic Plan Implementation and Reporting Software.

4. Take A Preventive Approach To Problem Solving

When you take a position of leadership, you’re basically signing up to be a problem solver -- all day, every day. And, when you’ve got a strong long-term game plan in place, it’s much easier to see problems coming and to take preventive measures. Even if you can’t prevent a problem entirely, you can minimize the damage by staying alert and being proactive.

5. Lead By Example

Leading by example is one of the most obvious characteristics of a great leader. Instead of demanding respect, great leaders simply earn it by showing respect and compassion for the team. Taking initiative, being honest and accountable for your actions, and actively searching for solutions rather than problems are all traits that separate good leaders from great ones.

6. Inspire Others

When a leader is willing to step up and go to bat for the team, it makes an impression. Hard work and enthusiasm for the cause can be contagious. Who doesn’t want to be a part of something greater and see their hard work pay off? When you lead by example, you can’t help but inspire others to join your mission.

7. Don’t Just Speak, LISTEN

Clear communication is one of the most important characteristics of a great leader. It takes the guesswork out of the day-to-day grind and lets everyone know exactly where they stand. But, it’s not just about conveying your message. Sometimes, the best way to make headway is to listen to your teammates.

Everyone has opinions and ideas about the strategic direction of the company. Even if those items aren’t groundbreaking game changers, the discussion can be positive for everyone. Not only will your team feel valued, but the conversation can result in new and innovative ideas.

8. Get To Know Your Team

If you’re going to delegate responsibility effectively, you have to know the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. Not only does it help you distribute the workload to the most qualified personnel, it also helps you engage team members with projects designed to help them learn new skills.

9. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Being a great leader doesn’t mean you have to know everything -- But, it does mean knowing when to ask for help. Everyone has their strengths, and the better you know your teammates, the easier it will be to ask the right people for advice. Plus, when you ask questions of your team, they know you trust and value their expertise.

10. Learn From Criticism

One of the most common characteristics of a great leader is that they LEARN from their mistakes. Constantly striving to improve your processes and reach your organization's goals means you sometimes have to take calculated risks. And, when mistakes happen, you have to be able to take constructive criticism, both positive and negative, and use it to improve your skill set. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you’ll continue to grow as a leader.

Which characteristics of a great leader are you displaying in the workplace?