The presence of a great leader can be the difference between a team that succeeds and one that fails. Studies have shown that companies with strong leaders have nearly double the revenue growth compared to companies with weak leaders. This is especially relevant in the modern information economy, where productivity often depends not on a rote set of mechanical skills, but on the complex interpersonal factors inherent in coordinating a team of people with wide-ranging disciplines.
While there’s no “secret formula” to becoming (or making) a great leader, there is a set of common traits that many great leaders share. Here are five of the most important traits of great leaders, and how you can put them into practice in the workplace.
1. Great Leaders Value Their Team
A truly great leader understands that their success is contingent on their own team. Accordingly, the best leaders both ensure that they hire “A+” team members and also understand that those employees are by definition “A+” individuals.
The best talent deserves to be treated that way, and when they’re not, they’re likely to seek employment with an organization that will meet those expectations. A good leader must work hard to ensure that their employees are happy and feel appreciated. Effective leaders go out of their way to solicit feedback toward that end.
One of the most important traits of great leaders is a willingness to maintain open lines of communication with the workers under their supervision. When employees don’t feel free to air their concerns or complaints, that negative energy can begin to fester and “infect” the team even before top talent decides to leave the company.
For that reason, effective talent management strategies are a core requirement of impactful and successful leadership.
2. They Understand the Importance of Delegation
One of the most common mistakes of ineffective leaders is an unwillingness to trust the employees they’ve hired. Hiring the best team members isn’t enough — you need to actually take advantage of what those team members can offer. When you’ve gone out of your way to find the best talent in any given discipline, it simply doesn’t make sense to continue trying to do everything yourself. Instead, delegation is the key to success.
The best leaders understand that they can’t do it all on their own and trust their team members to get their work done. Those leaders understand that their primary role is to facilitate and support that work, not micromanage it or take it on as their own responsibility.
Delegation matters because it frees up the best leaders to focus on the entire team and not get bogged down in the minutiae of tasks that can be handled by their employees instead.
3. Great Leaders Build a Winning Company Culture
Great leaders understand that the company’s culture, like its workload, can’t be successful if it requires micromanaging. Instead, it’s important to build a winning company culture that’s robust enough to gain its own momentum and draw energy from all the individuals in a company, not just the leadership.
By building a self-sustaining culture, great leaders ensure that even new hires are immediately initiated into the company’s goals, aspirations and working philosophy. Doing so frees them to focus on new challenges, confident that the culture itself is teaching and inspiring team members to continue succeeding in their own arenas.
The most effective cultures synthesize the company’s values and mission with the motivation employees need to come into the office prepared to put their best foot forward, day in and day out.
Curious to see what kind of leader you are? Come take our leadership quiz today!
4. Great Leaders Communicate
A company’s culture, mission and directives are of limited use when they can’t be communicated effectively. Great leaders strive to guarantee that all members of their team understand both the company’s values and its vision for the work to be done. By communicating a clear road map toward success, leaders can ensure that those values are projected even when they’re not around to personally monitor employees.
Leaders must communicate that vision clearly, concisely and in a way that ensures their team can easily relate to it, both on the macro-level and in the microsphere of daily tasks.
5. They Build a Great Leadership Team
Just as a great general can’t lead an entire army on his or her own, so too do great company leaders understand that they can’t lead the entire organization single-handedly. Maintaining a robust and effective corral of top-quality lieutenants is a vital component of effective leadership, so building a great leadership team should always be a top priority.
The most effective leadership teams contain a mix of internally promoted employees who are already intimately familiar with the company and outside hires who can inject new energy and skill-driven knowledge into the working environment.
Great leaders rely on their leadership teams to serve dual roles, both championing the larger mission and meta-goals of the company and serving as a conduit into the daily workings of base-line employees. Great leaders tap into that conduit to maintain their awareness of company operations on every level, empowering them to tweak the strategic and tactical game plans as required.
Are you ready to transform your company’s operations from the top down? Come explore our Leadership Essentials courses to ensure your leadership team develops the skills they need to become truly great leaders.