The Qualifications for Leadership
There are many misconceptions about the education required to become a successful leader. I believe no formal training is needed, although learning new skills and perspectives can expand the options and techniques you can apply to demonstrate your leadership.
What Traits You Should Have to Be a Good Leader
Good leaders display a set of traits, rather than a specific pool of knowledge. These traits include:
• Drive: Good leaders constantly focus on improving business outcomes, personal skills, and helping others improve their capabilities and results.
• Sensitivity to the needs of others: Good leaders constantly strive to understand the motivators and fears of their peers. They mindfully use this information to support others, while participating in or driving business improvements.
• Enthusiasm: It is vital to demonstrate contagious positivity about your business and the products and services it provides. If you are enthusiastic, it is likely others will respond to your attempts to lead.
• Business curiosity: Good leaders show curiosity about business processes and how they could be changed. Desiring to know more about products and services of the business, and the makeup and challenges facing clients, sets a great example. Good leaders proceed through their work time with their eyes and ears open to understand more about the business and the industry in which the business resides.
• Desire for continuous learning: Alongside business curiosity, good leaders seek to increase their skills, both in the leadership space and any relevant technical skills that will drive new ideas and assist in working with others.
• Ability to communicate constantly: Good leaders spend a large portion of their day communicating with others. Discussions, emails, articles, blog entries, or other approaches are used liberally. The most effective leaders are also communicating with team members, peers, leaders, managers, and senior executives.
While training can support and improve these traits, the desire and motivation to perform in this manner is critical for leadership. You may have a broad and formidable education, but demonstrating these traits, along with a desire to improve them, is critical to being perceived as a leader in your organization.
What You Should Not Do to Be a Good Leader
In contrast to the traits discussed above, there are characteristics that some people embrace that actually do not contribute to your being a good leader, specifically:
• Focusing only on work. The best leaders are those who have balance in their lives and support that balance in others. For example, leaders who tell others to go home and care for their families but don’t demonstrate that behavior themselves can create apprehension in the people they lead.
• Constantly pushing others. Good leaders provide focus for their teams and managers but know when to push ahead and when to back off. Constantly pushing others can lead to burnout and a resistance to the attempts to lead.
• Never showing own apprehension or weakness. Good leaders are honest about what they are good at and what they don’t do well. They don’t burden others with these concerns, but they don’t lie about them either. They are presented as facts when relevant, and good leaders ask for support from others as required to overcome personal shortcomings.
Displaying Leadership Traits
You don’t have to be appointed as a team leader or manager to display the leadership traits discussed here. Seek to embrace these characteristics all the time. If you aren’t the leader, share your ideas for making improvements and listen to the ideas of others. Support your team, and do your best to get to know them without being intrusive. Share things about yourself and allow others to do the same. Express your enthusiasm for the business, and if you learn something new, share that learning to help your peers. Communicate with others, focusing on clarity. Listen whenever you can, as carefully as possible. Try to be the best employee you can be for your business. Do these things, and your perception as a leader in your business should increase.
Tomorrow, I will discuss how to act like a leader, even when you aren’t listed on your business’s org chart.
Till then, lead on!
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