There are essentially five characteristics I believe that is imperative if you hope to make the company a success and be a great leader. These things don’t represent all facets of leadership, but they do form the foundation on which leadership is built and are an integral part of leadership at every level.
Courage – A strong leader needs to be brave to be able to make decisions and take some risks. They show tenacity and patience. Having the courage to stand alone, the tenacity to not succumb to pressure, and the patience to keep fighting until you win the day–and sometimes being able to do all three at the same time–is something you will have to develop if you want to be a true and successful leader.
Adaptability – Not everything goes to plan, and a good leader needs to be adaptable to the ever-changing situations in business. One minute everything can be moving along swimmingly and the next something has happened that changes everything. Dealing with and managing people requires patience, as we are all living breathing creatures who require different kinds of attention. Real problems occur which can interrupt their own contributions to the workplace. And at times like these, leaders have to be able to change course; that is, first make sure their businesses will survive, and then find a new way to reach their goals.
Integrity – Though it may not necessarily be a metric in employee evaluations, integrity is essential for the individual and the organization. It’s especially important for top-level executives who are charting the organization’s course and making countless other significant decisions. Our research shows that integrity may actually be a potential blind spot for organizations. Make sure your organization reinforces the importance of integrity to leaders at various levels.
Self-Awareness – While this is a more inwardly focused skill, self-awareness is paramount for leadership. The better you understand yourself, the more effective you can be. Do you know how other people view you, or how you show up at work? Take the time to learn about how you influence people and how you are perceived in the workplace, are you respected? This is something that is earned.
Treating people with respect on a daily basis is one of the most important things a leader can do. It will ease tensions and conflict, create trust, and improve effectiveness and set the tone of what is expected in the workplace, leading by example is imperative. You can never expect to be genuinely respected unless you show respect firstly.
- Respect is about listening. People feel respected when they have been heard and understood. Being genuinely interested in and open to others, strengthens relationships and builds trust. You don’t need to agree with or like the other person’s viewpoint. Taking the time to listen to someone’s experience, ideas, and perspectives is respectful, even if you choose another path. I know I have been in situations where I am buried in the computer screen, when someone comes to speak to me, I have the awareness to turn away from the screen and look at the person talking to me.
- Respect isn’t the absence of disrespect. Eliminating active disrespect — such as rude, insulting, or devaluing words or behaviours — doesn’t create respect. Respect is an action: We show respect; we act respectfully; we speak with respect. “Leaders need to know that the absence of disrespect doesn’t have the same positive impact in resolving disagreement, conflict, or tension as does the presence of respect.
- Respect is shown in many ways. The perception of respect is influenced by culture and family, peers, and social relationships. Status, power, and role all create the context in which respect is interpreted. Leaders need to take the time to understand how respect is given and received in cultures and groups other than