You’ve been running your business for years now and things are going pretty well. Your P&L statements look good, your turnover is low, and your employees seem to be happy.
Lately, though, you’ve been wondering if you could be doing even better. You’ve never had much formal leadership training and while you’ve learned a great deal on the job, there are still some areas where you feel like you can improve.
The first step is evaluating where you and your team currently are.
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What are the Characteristics of a Great Leader?
A great leader is easy to spot because they have a team of successful employees working with them. This isn’t to say that you’ve hired perfect staff members, but rather that you’ve molded them into amazing employees.
Take a close look at your team and answer the following questions:
- Does my team come to me with problems?
- Does my team feel comfortable suggesting new ideas?
- Does my team understand where the company is headed and how their specific roles play into our future?
- Does my team know what they are responsible for?
- Does my team work well together?
- Does my team enjoy coming to work each day?
If you answered “yes” to each of these questions, you’re off to a great start! The following details some ways to expand those existing leadership qualities.
What Do All Great Leaders Have in Common
Great leaders throughout history, whether in business, government, community organizations, or even those with no formal leadership role, have many of the same characteristics or skills. These include:
1. Communicating Directly
Sometimes we feel like we shouldn’t be direct in order to protect someone’s feelings. As admirable as this is, it won’t benefit anyone in the long run. Be clear when you address people. What do you need them to do (exactly) and by when? If you have constructive feedback regarding their performance, deliver it as candidly as possible. This doesn’t mean you have carte-blanche to be nasty, just to be honest.
2. Showing Transparency
Would you rather your employees learn about challenges within the organization from you or from each other? If you don’t openly discuss changes, challenges, and celebrations with your team, they’ll be discussing it without you. Set aside meeting time to update everyone on what’s happening within your company and how it will affect them. This gives you the opportunity to address concerns or anxieties before they get out of hand and sour the culture of your team.
If news does get out before you share it, own up to what’s going on rather than trying to skirt the issue. Hiding information from your team will make them doubt not only your honesty but your ability to handle the situation.
Related: How a Leader Can Fix a Toxic Culture
3. Getting to Know Your Employees
Depending on the size of your company, this may become problematic. However, do your best to get to know the people working for you. When you learn about them on a personal level, you’ll show them that you respect them as an individual, not just as a worker. In return, they’ll respect you as a leader. Find out if they have family or friends. Learn what their hobbies are outside of work hours. Treat them like people.
4. Holding Employees Accountable
While it’s important to learn about your employees and relate to them on a person-to-person level, you must also make them responsible. However, you do need to clearly communicate what is expected of them and then hold them accountable for the goals that you’ve set. Life will sometimes get in the way of an employee’s job performance and goals. When it does, work with them to set new goals or to put goals on hold until other arrangements can be made.
5. Setting the Vision and Direction of the Organization
No matter what else is happening in your company, it is your responsibility to steer the ship. As the leader, you must create a vision of what your company will accomplish and determine how it will get there. It is your heart and your eyes that will see this company to success.
Great leadership is not something you are born with. These skills can be learned, developed, and constantly improved. Work on yourself and your business will boom. If you’d like to learn how to be a better leader for your organization, we can help. Contact Catapult Groups today.