Most of us will find ourselves in some kind of leadership role at least at one point in our lives. It might be in the office where you could be managing a team, or it might be at home as a parent. It could even be rising to a leadership role in a group of friends, or perhaps in a situation where you have the most knowledge and people turn to you for guidance.
Whatever the case, not everyone is going to take to this role with the same gusto or aplomb. Some people are certainly better ‘natural leaders’ than others, so the question is just what makes them that way.
Let’s take a look…
On a most basic level, you could say that the job of a leader is to help the people they lead to achieve the mutual goal. In other words, a good leader in an office is the leader who manages to increase profits. A good leader when you’re lost though, is someone who manages to get everybody home on time.
Once you have your objective then, you have a means through which to score your performance. The more efficiently a leader meets objectives using the team and resources available to them, the more successful that leader is.
In order to do this, a good leader should be able to make the most out of their team. That means that each member of the team should be put to full use and it means that the leader should be able to create a safe environment in which they feel able to work to the best of their ability and express themselves. That means that they aren’t being micromanaged but they are being given just enough guidance to maximize their skills.
The Skills and Traits That Great Leaders Possess
And there are certain skills and traits that will make it easier for anyone to accomplish these things. This is how we know what the most important skills are for any leader.
Here are a few…
Being courageous is a highly important skill as a leader for a number of reasons. Importantly though, a good leader needs to be willing to take measured risks and then be responsible for the outcome. Risk is crucial in nearly any project but it’s by taking responsibility that a leader gives their team the confidence and safe environment to work toward those risks and not feel as though they’re being thrown under the bus.
People skills are absolutely essential as a leader and come into play in countless scenarios. Right at the start of your tenure as leader, you will likely split your group into sub teams. Right away, this requires a certain amount of understanding, as you need to know what groups are likely to work together and who will be best suited to which role. This requires emotional intelligence and the ability to read people.
Communication skills are fundamental to good leadership as they allow you to instruct your team on what they need to do and more importantly why they’re doing it. (The why is what gives team members the ability to innovate and improvise in a helpful manner.) If you don’t know how to communicate what you want, then good intentions can come across badly – or you can end up sending your team on the wrong mission, leading to mistakes!
A good leader should be able to regulate their own emotions and stay calm and collected under any circumstances. This is important because, as a leader, your team will turn to you to know how they should respond to a given situation. You are the one with all the information and so if you’re panicking and stressed, this suggests to the team that things are bad. Being able to stay calm and put on a brave face is highly important then, so that your team stays calm and continues to do their best work.
Another reason this is important, is that you’ll always get a better response from your followers if you instruct them in a calm and measured manner. When you shout or yell, it shows weakness, embarrasses your team and makes you look like you’re not in control of yourself – let alone the team!
Passion and Charisma
What is charisma? Some people say that it is closely linked with passion – the appearance that you truly believe in what you’re doing and that you love the task you’ve been assigned to accomplish.
When you believe in what you’re saying, this creates a harmony between your body language and your words. Suddenly, everything you are doing is pointing to the same conclusion – that you really believe in your job and in your team. As you can imagine, this is much more motivating and confidence-inspiring for that team than someone who seems to be unsure of the task themselves.
Passion is contagious and charisma is persuasive. Even when you question the orders that come from on-high, you need to find the good in them so that you can inspire your team and work harder yourself!