Strong leadership skills contribute to the success of any work team and ensure a leader is listened to and respected by those he or she is leading. Commanding respect is about inspiring creativity, encouraging cooperation and giving team members the feeling they are an integral part of a successful whole.
A strong leader successfully motivates individuals and keeps them on task without demoralizing them or destroying their autonomy.
Those who lead successfully share common characteristics appreciated both by those above them on the corporate hierarchy and those they lead. Successful leadership skills can cut across industries. What makes an excellent teacher a good leader is what makes the supervisor in a manufacturing facility or the head of a finance company a good leader. There are universal qualities you can consistently find in nearly every strong leader. Having these traits are a sign you are – or could be – a strong leader.
1. You Know and Understand the People You Lead
A strong leader does not randomly delegate tasks. He or she takes the time to get to know the employees he or she leads and knows what everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are as well as where their interests lie. An effective leader uses this information to craft a team, utilizing everyone’s talents as a contribution to the success of the team and any project they work on.
A great leader gets to know every person he or she supervises on a personal level. Working on a project, no matter how rewarding, is not pleasant if the leader refers to you only as, “Hey you.” If you want to lead, then be sure you take the time to get to know the people looking to you for direction. Likewise, being professionally familiar with your fellow teammates can show you are ready to move up from an entry-level position.
2. You Think Positively
Having a positive attitude does not mean you never criticize or challenge the people you lead. Overall, when your attitude is positive, constructive criticism and guidance is more readily accepted and can be a powerful motivator. Having a positive outlook about upcoming projects rather than being pessimistic pushes others to work harder and smarter to fulfill your expectations.
A positive attitude as a leader means taking setbacks with good grace and keeping your employees’ or team members’ spirits high. A good sense of humor and enthusiasm for the job are key to being a strong leader.
3. You Practice Humility and Appreciation
A strong leader shares the credit as well as the workload. Rather than basking in the praise of superiors, he or she lets others know the contributions made by the rest of the team. Leaders share the rewards of a job well done and are not afraid to let others know they achieved success because of their team.
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When a job is completed, a strong leader remembers to thank his or her team for their contributions. Some leaders tell themselves work performance is what employees get paid for, but a strong leader knows appreciation and thanks are a far better motivator for future performance than a salary increase without recognition.
4. You Are Open to New Ideas
Leaders who do things because they have always been done a certain way are not successful. They may not make things worse, but they do not make anything better either. Facing new challenges without considering new ideas or innovative ways to move forward is a sure way to get stuck in a rut, leaving others disappointed in your leadership skills.
Being open to new concepts and trying new approaches is a great way to lead others. It encourages them to learn, grow and suggest solutions you may not have tried before. Some of those ideas may be brilliant and spawn solutions to problems. Some do not work, but if you learn from those mistakes and move on, then your employees respect you for trying. On some occasions, something brilliant may happen and you are hailed as a leader and an innovator.
5. You Help Your Employees With Problems
Strong leaders are willing to help their team resolve workplace conflicts. While some prefer to ignore internal conflicts or disputes, the best leaders are the ones who are attentive to possible problems between employees. As a leader, you listen to all sides of the issue and help all parties reach a resolution or compromise to improve team dynamics.
When faced with an employee who may be suffering from stress or feeling a bit overwhelmed, a strong leader listens and shows concern. Rather than look for a way to minimize the team member’s issues, he or she helps the employee cope and look for ways to make him or her a more productive member of the team through support, assistance and positive reinforcement. When others know you genuinely care beyond the work being done, they give you 100 percent and continue to look to you for leadership.
6. You Listen and Learn
Leaders who believe they know it all are the type of leaders that others come to disrespect and even despise. Strong leaders are open-minded and ready to listen to others. They keep on open door policy and welcome the suggestions of others for improving results and strengthening the team.
This willingness to listen includes listening to criticism, whether it is from an employee or a customer. Defensiveness and anger have no place in strong leadership. Listening, considering and learning from others gives you an ever-increasing arsenal of leadership skills to use as you move forward.
7. You Do Not Micromanage
Micromanaging has become a dirty word in the business world for a good reason – it is ineffective and counterproductive. Delegating to team members requires having trust in the abilities of those you delegate to. Leaders who constantly look over their employees’ shoulders end up with nervous, resentful employees with low morale.
Knowing your leader has no faith in you can kill your productivity and your desire to produce your best work. The focus needs to be on the results, not each individual step taken to get there. If you do discover a problem, then you do not fix it for those you are leading. You turn it into an opportunity to teach them a better way, enhancing their skills and improving the team through on-the-job training.
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