There is no exact definition of what a leader does. A leadership style is influenced by his or her personality and the challenges they face. If you search for the word leadership on Google, you will soon find out that there are many styles of leadership. However, there are certain qualities that all good leaders share.
Leadership plays a number of functions to ensure the smooth functioning of an organization. As you have seen in the previous chapter, the following skills are critical:
Strategic Thinking One of the skills sought and expected of leaders in organizations is undoubtedly the ability to think, plan, and act strategically. This skill allows us to identify opportunities that will bring value to the company; it also allows us to challenge the status quo and the premises on which the company is based to face current and future challenges. The absence of this competency will lead people to comply, to apply past solutions to future problems, to fail to identify threats as well as opportunities early on.
Inspiring and Motivating
An inspirational leader helps you bring out the best in yourself. A motivating leader pushes others’ to do more and brings out the best in others. People who work for an inspiring leader are enthusiastic, encouraged, energized, motivated, and engaged. They believe that what they do is essential and that they are making a difference.
Critical Thinking, Analyzing and Problem-Solving Abilities Too often, we focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. When a leader is faced with a problem, he utilizes critical thinking and analyzes the problem finding solutions. A leader will identify the real issues underlying the symptoms by asking the right questions. Instead of stating the obvious (or the problem), the leader will provide ideas for solutions.
Demonstrating Transparency, Integrity, and Honesty To be successful in life, you have to be very honest because dishonesty always catches up with us. It is impossible to succeed without developing a solid reputation for honesty and integrity. Interpersonal relationships are based on trust, and you cannot trust someone dishonest. As a leader, integrity is a crucial success factor, and the most critical persuasive tool a leader has. Honesty is the basis on which all other aspects are based. The leader is a model of integrity for others, and it’s about being a role model to inspire others to behave similarly.
Great leaders are not afraid to recognize the skills of others and also support others in their development. A great leader realizes that it is essential to create an environment where exchange and knowledge transfer is a given. He truly believes that everybody has the opportunity to learn and grow.
Learning, Creating and Innovating
Not only are leaders supportive of others’ learning, but they also thrive in learning new things. They love creating and innovating in their area of expertise. They are not afraid to say they don’t know and learn about it. Leaders embrace changes as an opportunity to grow.
Leaders know how to drive results because their goal is clear, and they know how it relates to others. That is why they drive results because they know how to engage others in actions that will lead them to success. They understand how people are involved in the goal and find ways to spark that passion in others to move forward.
Communicating in a Powerful and Effective Way
It is one thing to know where you are going; it is another to be able to communicate it in a clear way that others understand you. A leader’s communication is clear, open, and in alignment with their actions. The biggest communication tool a leader has is his behavior. What you see is what you get.
It is believed that most leaders who are in a leadership role have acquired that role because of the relationship they have built. You are probably familiar with the following expression: “It is not what you know, but who you know.” Knowing how to build relationships is vital if you want to be a strong leader. Not many people will follow a person they cannot relate to.
Displaying Technical or Professional Expertise People look up to people who know things and can demonstrate skills and knowledge in their field. The same applies to leaders. You can be a leader in your area if you are good at it. Others will look up to you for help when they struggle or advice to succeed like you.
Since leadership is not a natural skill for most of us, it becomes essential to be aware of where we lack and what we need to improve on. The following assessment will help you have an idea of your leadership skills and how much work you need to dedicate to your development.
Here are 15 questions that will help you define your leadership abilities.
1. Can you identify your three main strengths?
2. Can you identify your three main areas of concern?
3. Do your actions reflect your words and values?
4. Do you listen carefully to the ideas of those who disagree with you?
5. Are you bold enough to ask for feedback on your behaviors and use the information you gather as a tool to get to know yourself better?
6. When others do something wrong, do you take the time to help them see what they need to change and how they can solve problems?
7. Do you have the ability to assess the state of your environment and shape it to be better?
8. Do you have the ability to communicate a vision or goal?
9. Do you have the ability to mobilize people?
10. Do you have a propensity to encourage rather than criticize?
11. Do you have the ability to take risks?
12. Do you have a sense of innovation and creativity?
13. Do you have the ability to make decisions quickly?
14. Are you inspiring and admired by your employees?
15. Do you recognize your mistakes rather easily?
The number of “no” answers provide an indication of the various behaviors you could develop or reinforce to reach your ultimate potential as a leader.