What are the most important characteristics of a good leader? Not such an easy question to answer, is it? Of course, a strong leader or manager has the talent to persuade people to willingly follow him or her, but what else is there to it? Every business needs a strong personality at each level of management who has the characteristics of a good leader, but how do you recognize, as a director, the perfect senior manager for your newly opened enterprise? And more importantly: How do you see as a professional if you are up to the task of being a leader? We have compiled the eight most important characteristics a good leader should have, so use this as a self-test. Enjoy!
8 key characteristics for good leadership
1. Do you have a vision?
A leader with a vision has a clear picture of where they want to go and how goals can be achieved. However, just that alone is not enough. Leaders must share their ideas with others. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric Co., believed the following: “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion”. A leader must be able to use his/her vision, and communicate it well, so that customers and employees alike also believe it. He or she must find clear and passionate words to make their vision attractive to others.
2. Acting instead of merely analyzing
The one who has a vision must also be able to implement it. A leader does not suffer from “analysis paralysis” but arranges everything in accordance with their vision. As a leader, you must be able to inspire your colleagues and mobilize them into action. Be the motor that drives new ideas – If the engine stops, the whole project falters. This means a lot of responsibility, but also the ability to create a strong impact. It can be a great experience to see how one’s own vision can lead others towards motivation for action, while adding a little spark that can kindle a great fire of innovation. Would you think of yourself as someone who’s always pushing boundaries, within the necessary time and energy limitations, and ultimately ends up finishing successfully? A good leader does everything to complete the next step in their vision, and is thus leading by example. A leader shows his team that there are always opportunities to achieve something great.
3. Integrity and fairness
A person of integrity showcases the same values in all environments (private and public). Such leaders convey trust and leave colleagues with no doubts about their communication. This means: Honest action, predictable reactions, controlled emotions and a total absence of any tantrums. An executive with strong integrity and balance is much more desirable for employees. In addition, it is important to be fair. Fairness means measuring others consistently with the same measure. A leader must listen to all opinions before making a judgment. He/She should avoid making decisions without the necessary data.
4. Appreciation is a necessity!
Be honest, is it easy for you to praise others for the work they do? Would you describe yourself as confident but humble? These points are essential to establish yourself as a leader. Strive to give credit, where it is due, for the many achievements of your employees and teams. On the flip side, it takes a good leader to professionally accept responsibility for errors. In this kind of environment employees will feel safe, as they know compliments to their work are genuine, and the team will become stronger as a result.
This means being able to listen and be open to new ideas – even if it does not necessarily correspond to the current ways of thinking. Good leaders are able to accept ideas from employees and use them effectively. Openness creates mutual respect and trust between executives and employees. The team is also always eager to share fresh ideas. Do you think Steve Jobs came up with all the ideas for Apple’s products and campaigns by himself? We don’t think so either.
The ability to “think outside the box” is important as a boss struggles with resourceful solutions to tough situations. Creativity allows managers to explore different ideas that might not be so apparent on the surface, and the team can thus be steered in new directions. The most important question you can ask yourself as a boss is: “What if …?” The worst thing that you can tell a manager, however, is: “I know this is probably a stupid question…”
7. Asserting the right way
The rule is: Assertiveness is not synonymous with aggression. Rather, it is meant to be the ability to clearly express what is expected in order to avoid misunderstandings. A manager must be assertive to get the desired results. Employees must also be assertive, as it’s also important to understand what employees want and expect from their boss. Leaders are not intended to be dictators who only iterate commands. A definitive structure and the right amount of assertiveness from both sides is necessary, but always with the utmost respect.
8. Sense of humor
The grim punctuality, fanatic obsession with control and structure – all this has its advantages, however with a little humor you can usually work in a bit more relaxed manner. Humor is important to resolve tensions, defuse hostilities or to break up spells of boredom. Effective leaders know how to use humor to motivate employees. Humor is not inconsistent with the obligations of conscious work, quite the contrary, working under a humorous leader is much more relaxed and the employees tend to be more committed, since it may feel more humane. That is something that should never be lost on you as a leader.
So, how would you assess yourself now? Take advantage of the ideas listed above as inspiration for sharpening your leadership skills. Or if you are looking for your next top position, keeping these characteristics in mind can surely help steer your next interview in the right direction.