What makes a good leader? This is perhaps a question that most people ask themselves, whether they are leading people or not. If you are not already in this role, the ability to know how to lead is critical to everyone as you might find yourself in this role in the future as your career progress. After all, the wiser we get the more likely that we will be managing and leading the new comers and the next generation. This article explores the qualities of a good leader.
Some leaders are really good at leading. It is as if they are natural at this. Leadership is not a something you are born with. It is something you learn as you observe and improve. At the end of the day, leadership has a lot to do with good personal and inter-personal skills, or in other words soft skills. Being good at these soft skills is essential both for leadership and also increasing one’s productivity and rate of success. Whether you are a project manager, a line manager, a department manager or a supervisor, the principles behind good leadership are the same.
To become a better leader, follow these guidelines:
Put People at Ease
The first rule of good leadership is to put people at ease. Research shows that this comes down to the ability not to react quickly in difficult situations and instead take time to respond appropriately. Avoiding temper and angry remarks can significantly help a leader as well as being empathic and attempting to establish rapport.
A good leader must be able to inspire others and have a vision. The future is mostly unknown but we love someone who can almost see it and tell us how to get there. Inspiration gives people a lot of energy which they can channel to their work.
To follow a leader you need to be able to trust him. Without trust, no one will bother to listen. Showing that you feel responsible for your actions and leadership helps greatly. Keep your composure and be honest. Your honesty builds trust and you can cash it in in moments of crisis and lead people.
Research shows that people prefer a leader who is optimistic. This feels rather natural and somewhat obvious from the point of view of people who want to follow someone but we constantly see leaders whose lack of optimism brings them down. Don’t be one of them. Study the future and give people hope for what it could bring. People like leaders who have positive attitude in the face of strong adversity.
Self-awareness is crucial for a successful leader. This means you need to be able to control your emotions, be able to manage your anger, anxiety and fear especially when confronted with complex situations and making difficult decisions.
Good leaders can make and maintain strong relationships both with people from the inside of their organisations and the people from the outside. As a good leader you should be able to work with people towards a mutual goal and seek a win/win result every time.
Use Participative management
An ideal leader listens and engages others and not only is willing to get ideas from others but also strongly encourages them to bring in everything they can. A leader would make others feel that the entire strength of the company relies on them rather than the leadership. The leadership is there as a facilitator and coordinator rather than an imposer and dictator.
Having a solid strategy is a critical ability of a good leader. Otherwise the behaviour would oscillate from one move to another as various “advisors” try to help. This doesn’t lead to good leadership. When required, a good leader should be capable of defending the overall strategy and stand on his own when necessary to lead the company towards a better future in the face of obstacles. This means a leader must be able to think independently and be decisive.
Handle Difficult People
A good leader knows how to handle difficult employees by allowing them to voice their concerns and encourage constructive feedback. Rather than shutting people up, you should encourage an environment of trust and cooperation where everyone feels obliged to step in and help.
A lot of learning leadership is about improving a person’s emotional intelligence. You can use a leadership skills training course along with project management to prepare people for this role. You can also use Leadership skills training materials or project management training materials to setup corporate courses on these subjects and systematically train your staff to become better at leading others. For details on these training resources please see below.
About the Author
Find more downloadable soft skills training resources on project management, presentation skills, appraisal skills, creativity, interview skills and motivation. For more UK corporate training resources Leadership Skills Training Materials. Also see train the trainer resources .