Eight Attributes of a Great Leader - dummies

Eight Attributes of a Great Leader

By Marilee B. Sprenger

The list of leadership attributes is endless, but if you were going to create an inventory of traits that no leader can be without — attributes that would please the brains of most employees — it would have to include the following:

  • Be in touch. Let your employees know that you’re with them, which gives them a sense of security and calms the emotional area of the brain. When emotions are calm, a brain is open to new information and responds better to others.

  • Be visible. You want to be certain that employees see you regularly. Visibility is advantageous because

    • it provides your employees with the knowledge that you care and are approachable.

    • it enables you to always know what is going on.

    • it lets employees know that you are ready to join in and help if needed.

  • Hone your communication skills. Communication is a two-way street; to be an effective communicator, you have to be a good listener as well as a good speaker. Workers who feel that information is shared with them stay in their jobs longer and are more motivated.

  • Keep your emotions in check. Make sure that you can lead yourself before you begin leading others. Use your emotions to help you make decisions, but don’t let them use you. Doing so requires that you practice emotional intelligence skills, such as the ability to recognize your emotions. As you begin to recognize them, you can also determine the best way to handle them.

  • Inspire teams. You can’t be a leader if you don’t have any followers. Be the type of leader who walks with your teams, not in front of them. Offer yourself, your hopes, and your goals to your teams. You inspire by being able to explain complex issues in a way that your followers understand and that inspires confidence and hard work.

  • Sharpen your decision-making skills. Knowing how to make rational decisions and snap decisions is part of leading others. You instill a sense of safety and security in your employees when they can count on your good decision-making skills. To sharpen those skills, try the following:

    • Practice identifying problems and presenting them simply.

    • Invite brainstorming to create as many possible solutions as you can.

    • Determine consequences for each possible solution.

    • Activate your decisions and follow their outcomes.

  • Place others’ needs above your own. Ask employees what they want from their jobs, what their future goals might be, and what needs they have that have not been met. If your workers believe that you will help them, they will be more willing to help you meet your organizational goals.

  • Lead people where they want to go. If they want to go, why don’t they just go? Fear — the same fear that keeps many people from becoming leaders. Your inspiration and the fear that you conquered give your followers the courage to walk with you. Find those who share your vision, who want to make things happen, and who want to make a difference.