Great leadership is an art.
A skill you need to practice.
Because none was a born a leader, and the biggest mistake you can make as as leader is thinking you're sitting on all the answers.
A true leader constantly searches for more knowledge on how to become a better leader.
This is a famous leadership quote that I love:
“What is growth for if not to help ordinary people thrive.”Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International.
Whether you are a political leader, a business or innovative leader, or even the head coach of a high school football team, you need to work on your leadership.
There are a set of leadership qualities you must possess, if you want to go places.
These qualities will positively influence, change, and alter the people you meet daily, and make them into better versions of themselves.
This article will cover the top leadership principles that every leader should be trying to learn.
The top 15 key leadership principles
The Center for Creative Leadership revealed a study that 38% of new leaders fail within their first 18 months. This is tragic but plausible. A leader does not sit in the corner and delegate tasks to the rest of the team.
There is more to leadership, and here we have a summarized a list of 15 leadership qualities for you.
One of the most important leadership principles is communication.
This is not just talking or speaking, but also listening, which is often times very underrated.
One top leadership principle of effective leadership is communication. As simple as this is, many supposedly good leaders fail woefully. Leaders must learn to listen to their followers but also know how to create a communication channel that enables them to speak without fear.
Active listening and purposeful speaking are communication skills that every leadership quality must possess. It helps them pay attention to what is said or not said but also means they care, are focused, humble, respectful, and thoughtful.
“The art of communication is the language of (good) leadership.”James Humes
Great leaders are visionary leaders … they have a plan and strategic moves to enable them to achieve the foreseeable result and goal.
Those with this leadership quality easily motivate themselves and those around them to see that a goal is achieved. In most situations, their vision is usually for the long term and not for instant gratification.
“Without strong visionary leadership, no strategy is effectively executed.Robert S. Kaplan
We cannot list out leadership qualities without mentioning INTEGRITY. This is a core quality every leader, or want-to-be leader, must have in their arsenal.
“It is true that integrity alone will not make you a leader, but without it, you will never be one.”Zig Ziglar
Leaders in any sphere know that integrity is the fundamental pillar on which all other leadership qualities are built. Integrity allows a leader to stand on their beliefs, immovable and unperturbed, regardless of the situation.
Furthermore, integrity also empowers a leader to remain truthful and honest and choose ethical and moral grounds before personal or emotional grounds.
After integrity is honesty. I'm wondering if this should come before or after, but every leader who has integrity is likely honest. These leadership principles work hand-in-hand with building a good leader.
There is no denying that honesty is one leadership quality that many leaders today unfortunately lack. Whether it is to please a group of loyalists or push an agenda that favors them or their inner circle.
“Integrity is telling myself the truth, and honesty is telling the truth to other people.”Spencer Johnson.
The next set of leadership qualities a good leader should possess is accountability. This is not the easiest attribute for anyone, even a leader, to own up to.
Too many people are careless and couldn’t care less, especially in leadership roles. Accountability means owning up to your shortcomings, failures, and commitment to yourself and your followers.
“Accountability is not only what you do, but also what we do not do for which we are accountable.”Moliere
It is easy for one to get carried away with their objective and fail to understand the needs and problems of others. On a personal note, I think a leader that steps out of their box and shows kindness and empathy to others is good.
We live in a disconnected world where many leaders do not communicate with their subordinates nor understand their problems. However, the best leaders will tell you that empathy is the key to a successful establishment.
“The key to everything is empathy; nothing is more fruitful than walking in the shoes of others.”Satya Nadella.
Aside from honesty, the ability to be and remain inspirational is one of the leadership principles many leaders cannot understand properly.
How do you begin to inspire your followers not just to see you as a model but as a platform to be something better from the examples you are setting?
Inspirational leaders throughout history are the likes of Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.
“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.”Orrin Woodward.
8. Ability to delegate
The ability to delegate is one of the most resilient leadership qualities any good leader must possess. Even when you have the strength to do all the work, delegation breeds good leaders, increases productivity, and opens the doors to better opportunities.
Entrusting tasks allow a good leader to stay focused on their goals and build trust among their employees to do the best quality work that is delegated to them.
Furthermore, leaders who delegate have a better insight into the strengths and weaknesses of their team members.
“When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder.”James H. Boren.
Innovators are not geniuses. They are people whose good ideas inspire others to pursue and develop those thoughts.
In every stratum of an organization, there are people with great skills, ideas, and personalities, but who lack the will to follow through with their ideas.
Anyone capable of pushing creativity out of the box is an innovative leader.
“The role of a creative (innovative) leader is not to have all the ideas; it is to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they’re valued.”Steve Jobs
Take a good look at history. One thing stands out about historical leadership. Only courageous leaders achieve the extraordinary, whether good or bad. Courage is one of the most vital leadership qualities any leader must possess.
Even though it is a figurative statement, it takes courage to stand before a giant and even go ahead to stand on the shoulders of one. Courage is daring to achieve your goals regardless of the obstacles. Courage is a learning experience, and courageous leaders will stand up and keep going whether the results are attained or not.
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”Isaac Newton
Confidence is truly what good leaders are made with. The ability to know your limits, strengths, and weaknesses and the willingness to take responsibility for your incompetence is confidence. “Confidence does not mean you are always right; it means you are not afraid to be wrong.”
Self-confidence is the leadership principle that enables a leader to take responsibility without passing blame or procrastinating
There are five practices to an exemplary leadership role according to the leadership challenge by Barry Z. Posner and James M. Kouzes, and credibility is a summation of the challenge.
Credibility is a leadership quality that allows people to look beyond your personal life and trust you for whom you are. It is not surprising that employees or members that find their leaders less credible abandon them and do not trust them.
“The most essential quality for leadership is not perfection but credibility. People must be able to trust you.”Rick Warren.
13. The ability to make decisions
Can you imagine an uncertain leader or one that lacks clarity? Good leaders are decision-making and goal-setting individuals. The ability to think on their feet and make present and future decisions on behalf of the whole team is a trait.
They are open-minded and carefully examine a problem and draft a solution from it.
“Leadership is making the wise decision even when it’s hard.”Todd Stocker.
Great leaders have great stories, and one leadership quality that pushed them to be great is inquisitiveness.
“If knowledge is power, then curiosity is the muscle.”Daniella LaPorte
Inquisitiveness is the need to learn and be open to learning but also investing in thoughts, ideas, and perceptions to build the team's future, organization, and country at large.
There is a proverb that says curiosity kills the cat; good leaders need this trait to be the leader they intend to be so they have to keep reading and learning from books and top online sources.
According to research from the University of South Australia, “humility is the most fundamental leadership quality for cultivating cohesive and high-performing teams.”
Humility is often a trait pushed to the rear as the flamboyance of other leadership principles takes precedence.
However, humility is that quality that shows that a leader understands transformation that leads to growth rather than being domineering. “
“True humility is teachable, regardless of how much you already know.”
Bad leadership qualities
Leaders fail because they tend to lose sight of what’s important and what isn’t.
Some leaders tend to neglect the people driving the goals and place all their focus on the goals and jobs to be done. This allows them to lose their most valuable asset which is the people.
But on a long-term perspective, leaders fail because they choose to ignore their mistakes and flaws.
It's important to understand that no one has it all figured out. Leaders that own up to their mistakes with a developmental mindset are the leaders who build multimillion-dollar companies.
In addition, leaders fail because they cannot hold themselves and others accountable for their actions. If this trait is not identified and fixed, it creates an avenue for outright failure.
- Arrogance. People that cannot put their ego aside or are arrogant, do not make good leaders.
- Lack of accountability. As a leader you cannot expect other people to be accountable for the success of a project, that's your cue.
- Laziness. Leaders who are unambitious and not willing to put in the hard work cannot make others want to work hard and execute.
- Greed. Being overly concentrated on getting more for yourself can easily create a competitive and non-functioning environment in the team.
- Poor communication. Leaders don't assume that everyone understands them and that they understand everyone, but they make sure by asking questions.
The more you can avoid these bad leadership qualities, the better leader you'll be.
Final words on leadership
I hope these leadership qualities will help you to become a better leader, and make your business and team thrive even more.
Leadership goes beyond acting as the higher authority and giving instructions to subordinates.
A leader is the engine that keeps any fine machinery functioning at optimum capacity.
Yes, leaders have the vision and dreams, but they acknowledge the efforts of others in driving key objectives.
Becoming a better leader helps your team function as one integral entity. It makes your team members feel seen, heard, respected and valued.
It also sets the pace for you to succeed as a leader because your team see you as their guide if and when the storm hits. That confidence they have in you is what makes you a leader.
Until next time,