Everyone can be the boss but only a handful become leaders. So what exactly is leadership? American author John C Maxwell defines leadership as someone “who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” In other words, they transcend the term “manager” or “boss” and are willing to strive hard alongside their team to achieve company goals.

If you think people are born good leaders, that’s not true. In fact, leadership traits can be learnt and honed with time and practice. Let’s take an in-depth look at five important qualities that all effective leaders have.

1. Be Self-Aware

Before you manage others, you need to keep yourself in check. Being self-aware means being able to prioritise your goals and regulate your time, attention and emotions effectively. Outstanding leaders are adept in handling stress and balancing their personal and professional lives, while also maintaining good relationships with others and flexibility in their actions.

2. Have A Vision

Seeing far into the future and creating clear, constructive goals to achieve company objectives is important in leadership. Being a visionary is about managing various changes that will occur along the way, yet striking a balance between stability and growth while being adaptable and agile at the same time. Hence, becoming more of a “transformational leader” rather than just a regular manager.

3. Set Clear Goals

It’s not enough to just set goals, a great leader must persist to attain them. Self-confidence is a quality that a leader must have as it exudes control over the situation, good and bad. When one has clear objectives of what they want to achieve, they are able to excite those around them to work towards those goals together. A positive attitude about the opportunities ahead instead of focusing on past problems will be the ultimate push towards success.

4. Foster Creativity

Leadership is all about taking risks. It’s about making that jump into a whirlpool of uncertainty and encouraging creativity in all ways. Doing this will foster innovation, setting your organisation apart from your competitors and allowing you to maneuver the twists and turns of a changing business landscape. Encourage your team to spend at least 10-15 percent of their time exploring new ideas and brainstorming. Think out of the box and come up with unique solutions, turning your goals into reality.

5. Communicate Effectively

The most successful leaders know when to talk and when to listen. You need to be able to clearly and succinctly explain overall organisational objectives or specific tasks to your team, without any miscommunication. Even on a vertical level, group or one-on-one communication is crucial, whether it be via phone, email, or text. Until you are able to communicate your vision to others, it’s almost impossible to reap the results as intended. Words have the power to motivate or destroy. If you are able to use it for the former effectively, success will soon follow.

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