A leader can make the difference between success and failure. A good leader has a futuristic vision and knows how to turn ideas into real-world success stories. Unfortunately, there are many managers out there who are poor leaders. This is largely because of the time-honored practice of promoting people into management solely on the basis of their technical knowledge and ability, rather than because they are effective managers. Just because someone is the best financial analyst at your company does not mean that she should be leading the finance department. So if leadership is not rooted in technical skill, what are the characteristics of a strong leader? Read on!
Honesty and integrity. You want your team to be honest and to act with integrity? Then you need to walk the talk. Successful leaders adhere to their core values and beliefs.
Transparency. Being transparent eliminates suspicion and engenders trust.
Genuine enthusiasm. Strong leaders are passionate about what they do, the teams they lead, and the products they evangelize.
Clear communication. Poor communication leads to one thing—poor outcomes. Good leaders understand that listening is a key component of communication, and one which is just as important as speaking.
Delegation. Effective leaders recognize that they can’t do everything. That’s why they assemble high-performing teams and let members use their individual talents and areas of expertise.
Empowerment. Closely related to delegation is empowerment. True leaders trust that their team members are fully up to any challenges they face. They also understand that when employees are empowered, they make decisions that are in the best interest of the company and the customer as well.
Empathy. At the most basic, human level, people crave empathy. They want to know that they matter and that they are recognized for their uniqueness. Leadership does not exist without empathy.
Managerial competency. True leadership is part art, part science. Can they inspire, motivate, mentor and direct? Being competent at the function of your job does not automatically translate into management competency.
Accountability. A qualified leader rejoices in the successes of his team, but also takes a bit more than his fair share of the blame for failures. Hogging credit and shifting blame make so-called leaders look weak.
Sharp decision-making skills. Leaders are decisive. They know when to act and what to do. They don’t waffle in indecision, nor do they make decisions in a vacuum. Good leaders consult key stakeholders before pulling the trigger, and they take ownership and responsibility for the decisions they make.