‘Good Leadership’ can mean lot of different things depending on the person you’re talking to and having a good leader can make all the difference between a team’s success, or failure.
However, according to the 2021 Global Leadership Forecast, businesses around the world are going through a leadership crisis:
- 79% of employees quit their job due to a lack of appreciation
- 58% of managers reported not receiving any management training, even though companies in the US spent $160 billion on employee training and education in 2021
- 77% of companies are experiencing a leadership gap
- 63% of millennials believe their leadership skills were not being fully developed
Looking at these statistics, it’s clear that leadership, and more importantly good leadership, is something that many people and companies are still working on and looking to develop more effectively.
So, which qualities do the best leaders hold? And what should you focus on in order to hone your leadership skills?
Encourage open communication and honesty throughout the team
One of the most important factors when it comes to strong leadership is effective, transparent, and open communication. A good leader always strives to be honest and straightforward with other team members. They set the example and expect this to be reciprocated.
This builds an environment where members of the team feel like they have a voice, creating a stronger sense of trust, purpose, and belonging within their team and the wider business.
When it comes to effective communication, it’s also important to emphasise the importance of listening - when people focus too much on what they’re going to say next rather than being present and actually listening to the other person, it prevents them from fully understanding the other person’s point of view.
Within a team environment, this can lead to misunderstandings and frustration, which can ultimately lead to a negative work environment and put any progress or projects at risk.
Demonstrate social intelligence and empathy
A telling sign of a good leader is that they’re able to connect with every member of their team. This requires a great deal of social intelligence and empathy.
Again, this can inspire a much greater sense of trust and loyalty, but also crucially, accountability, within the team.
When challenges occur within the workplace, good leaders will work with their team to understand what might be going wrong or what needs to be improved, without instilling a punitive or blame culture.
Whilst it’s important to remain professional within the workplace, we are all human. Someone might be feeling dissatisfied with something at work or have misunderstood a task. External factors completely unrelated to work might also be having a negative effect on a person’s performance.
A good leader will strive to understand the individual’s struggle and demonstrate empathy, focussing on how the person can be supported rather than on their failure.
Enable others to learn and grow
A major part of being a good leader is encouraging your team members to learn and develop their own skills and career. This involves giving them increased responsibility wherever possible and actively creating opportunities for them to grow.
For example, this could mean allocating a part of the team’s budget towards development opportunities such as courses and professional qualifications.
This also means giving them the time to learn and try out new things, rather than only focussing on their day-to-day responsibilities and existing skills.
Good leaders will challenge their team, delegating tasks and getting them to try out new things, to go outside of their comfort zone, whilst also giving them the support and confidence they need to accomplish whatever is set before them.
Ultimately, the more you invest into your team, the more you’ll get back from it and the better it’ll be for the overall business.
Maintain a positive environment even in the face of failure
How a person handles mistakes and failures says a lot about what kind of leader they are. Whilst one always hopes that everything runs smoothly, most of the time, there are going to be obstacles that come up at work.
However, obstacles, failures, and challenges are often the best way to learn. Whilst they are an inconvenience and it’s important to take any issue at face value, it’s also important to not get bogged down in the negativity of the situation.
Thinking about which aspects of a given issue are negative and which are positive makes it possible to have a more balanced view.
A leader who can focus on solutions rather than problems and look at the positives in any given circumstance is much more likely to motivate their team members to overcome the challenge or to learn from a failure, rather than to let it consume them.
Be open to different perspectives, new ideas, and change
A huge sign of good leadership is openness to new ideas. Change can be a scary thing, especially when one has become accustomed to working in a certain way for a long time. However, the best leaders are those who take this head-on and don’t shy away from trying out new things.
There are always opportunities to learn new things. Welcoming different perspectives and new ideas from anyone, regardless of how high up they are in the team, is the hallmark of a great leader. It makes it possible to embrace potential and explore new possibilities for improvement.
When looking at a challenge together, encourage the team to think about it together, come up with ideas, and feed them back to the group, without fear of making mistakes or silly suggestions. A culture where feedback and openness are encouraged leads to greater creativity, drive, growth, and success.