5 Characteristics All Great Leaders Share

leadership tipsMark Angelo, CEO, Yorkville Advisors

Good leadership is essential to any business, non-profit, or government team. Without effective leadership, there would be nothing to guide the rest of a people in a group towards success. Perhaps this is why most people regard leaders to be the most important human resource in any organization. 

A better leader develops better employees, and when the two come together, they create exceptional products. The trouble is, it can be difficult to define what a true “leader” is. While opinions about leadership vary from one space to another, the following characteristics are often considered to be key to a leadership personality. The question is, do you have what it takes to lead?

1.     Decisiveness

 All leaders are required to make difficult decisions – it’s just something that goes with the job. Leaders must understand that in certain circumstances, timely and difficult choices need to be made to support the best interests of the entire organization. Often, these decisions require an authority, and finality that won’t please everyone in your group. Extraordinary leaders don’t hesitate because they’re concerned that they’ll upset a few people – they work quickly and firmly, with their eyes on the needs of the many.

2.     Empathy

Empathy is a crucial element of being a good leader. The best leaders know when to address problems in private, and praise people in public. When a leader shows empathy they can guide individuals through complex challenges more efficiently, always keeping an eye out for solutions that will foster the long-term development of the group. Rather than making things personal, or assigning blame, effective leaders look for constructive ways to tackle the issues at hand.

3.     Accountability

While no-one likes to be the bad guy, it’s fair to say that extraordinary leaders are willing to take responsibility for the performance of everyone in their team – not just themselves. Leaders follow up on outstanding issues, check in with their followers, and monitor the effectiveness of outcomes for the organisation. When things are going well, these leaders deliver positive feedback. When things are going poorly, they identify problems quickly to get things back on track.

4.     Confidence

Not only are the best leaders confident, but the confidence that they show is contagious. If you can portray a positive attitude, then you can rest assured that people will be naturally drawn to you, and more willing to seek your advice. When challenged, a good leader doesn’t give in easily, because they know their opinions and ideas are well-informed, and the result of plenty of hard work. However, when they’re proven wrong, a good leader can take responsibility for their flaws.

5.     Honesty

Finally, no-one wants to follow someone they don’t feel that they can trust. A good leader must be transparent and authentic. If you’re trying to become a better leader, ask yourself whether you treat people the way you would hope to be treated in the same situation? Can you be relied upon to follow through on your promises, or are you the sort of person who changes their mind at the last minute? Trust is at the foundation of great leadership – can you inspire it in your followers?