No matter what type of work you might do, real leaders are in high demand. Organizations prize them, and with good reason – leaders improve culture, productivity, competitiveness, and profits all at the same time. The important question, though, is what makes these leaders stand out? In general, it’s the same five unique habits.
A Strong Ethical Core
Good leaders have a strong inner foundation. They operate with exceptional ethics and integrity, which allows them to adopt a sincere servant mindset to help their teams and communities. They model that behavior wherever they go and become the benchmark for the group’s larger morality. Their self-awareness is contagious and encourages others to understand who they are, what they need, and how they connect to everyone else. Good leaders are also passionate, dependable, authentic, and their genuineness fosters a sense of trust that’s not easily broken.
A Balance of Intuition and Knowledge
Top leaders have a good tolerance for risk that, when channeled properly, can move their teams and businesses into positively challenging circumstances that allow both personal and group growth. They are highly intuitive and allow their instincts to play a role in the risks they take, but they also are incredibly strategic and are able to take both a zoomed-in and zoomed-out point of view to deal with situations and make decisions. They understand technology and how to apply it, have solid business acumen, and can objectively identify opportunities, problems, and talents. The balance of these elements enables them to build highly effective teams and gives them the confidence and agility to respond and innovate with the speed that today’s fast-moving markets require.
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Leaders who excel need to be voracious learners. They understand that the acceleration of change and the increasing demands of customers require a commitment to continuous learning. It is the best way to adapt, remain flexible and empathetic, so they are never satisfied with what they know and remain intellectually curious. They are willing to mentor, teach, and share what they learn with others – rather than keeping information to themselves. Knowledge is only powerful when it is shared. As others see this behavior, they feel more confident taking steps to educate themselves so that they are constantly adding more value. The overall culture embraces upskilling and the group learns quickly.
Visionary Masters of Soft Skills
Leaders are visionaries who have strong soft skills. They are master communicators and send clear, timely messages that lay out both goals and expectations. Even as they establish boundaries, roles, and finish lines, they are culturally intelligent. They understand office politics and how to get things done in complicated interpersonal webs. They listen with genuine interest and empathy, and they tolerate mistakes with the understanding that everybody’s human. They know that status quo is not a winning strategy. Leaders also actively seek out others. They find ways to connect and develop their networks and systems with intention. As they reach out, they do everything possible to foster understanding, agreement, and enthusiasm. They engage and inspire people with storytelling to influence productivity and achieve desired outcomes. They understand that it’s not only “what you say” but “how you say it” that really makes the difference.
Humility and Empowerment
The best leaders are humble. They know they are not islands that achieve everything alone. So, although they are not afraid to step up for more responsibility where they can, they delegate whenever it’s appropriate. They share knowledge and nurture to ensure that others succeed; and when others do well, they give those people the credit that’s due. In this way, they empower those around them.
Good Leadership Is in Your Reach if You Deliberately Choose It
When you look at all of these habits and traits together, you can see that good leaders possess all the critical skill sets teams and organizations need for the future. They are innovative, adaptive to change, collaborative, and balanced in their decision-making. Their ethical center drives everything they do and has an enormous influence on the moral culture of the group. If you or someone you know falls a little short in any of these areas, don’t be discouraged. All of these traits are dynamic – you can learn them over time. So be deliberate. Acknowledge where you need to grow, and then take the steps that will allow you to improve.