What makes a leader effective isn’t an exact formula. The best leaders have skills that vary based on their role, the culture of the company in which they work, the dynamic among the people they lead and the type of work they are doing. While the characteristics of an effective leader differ based on a variety of circumstances, we’ve found six attributes that are common among our most capable leaders.
- They have integrity. Honest and ethical behavior are crucial to effective leadership: leaders set the example for their team. Integrity builds trust. People who trust their leaders and co-workers are more willing to speak up and take risks and they are more productive.
- Leaders inspire people. While a bit hard to define, the best leaders inspire people to do their best. They have the ability to read people and know what inspires one person versus another. Their ability to discover what inspires each of the people they manage is key.
- They know how to communicate. Not only are leaders able to communicate clearly to their people, they also know how to listen. Good communication requires a two-way conversation.
- They are approachable. Being approachable involves the ability to temper reactions to the stressful issues that pop up every day and developing relationships with the people one leads.
- They make firm decisions. Making firm decisions requires confidence. Confident leaders understand they will not be right 100% of the time, although it doesn’t hinder their ability to make decisions. Indecision kills productivity.
- They know how to delegate. It isn’t enough to elicit trust from the people they lead; effective leaders know how to trust people as well. Great leaders also facilitate their peoples’ ability to be effective. Our most effective leaders know that if they are not delegating, they are not really leading.