Leadership means different things to different people. According to The Leadership Institute at Harvard College, leadership is described as “the skill of motivating, guiding, and empowering a team towards a socially responsible vision.”
John Maxwell states that “leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
Tony Robbins defines leadership as “the ability to create immediate impact and compel lasting, positive change in others.”
Bill Gates speaks describes leaders as “those who empower others.”
Each one of these statements can define both good and bad leadership. Both can be powerful and have a profound effect on teams and organizations. Good and bad leaders do share a lot in common as they are results-driven and people-focused. They possess self-motivation, standards, confidence, influence, knowledge and goals. The difference resides in how they strive to reach their goals. Sometimes poor leadership traits come from not having an awareness of your team, or inexperience. The great thing about these skills is that they can be learned and sharpened.
A team that has great leadership will be inspired and motivated to work harder to achieve their goals. When a leader focuses on the development of their team, they are able to motivate the them to not only reach their target, but to exceed it. This is just one of the many traits of a good leader. Below are more ingredients of what makes good leaders.
Effective and clear communicators
- They simplify the message, ensuring everyone understands the needs and priorities. In addition, they use their knowledge to meet those needs and speak confidently to define the purpose and expectations.
Hire for the right seat in the bus
- A great leader recognizes the need to hire the right person for the right seat in the bus.
- Then, they invest in the new hires by coaching, training and developing them from day one.
Respect Your Team
- Treat the team with respect with every interaction. Whether it is around the watercooler or at an event, leaders are courteous and seek to develop their team.
- Compensate them for the value they bring to the company.
- They make sure their team has the support they need and provide tools to get the job done correctly.
Development and training
- Invest in the team by providing continuous education.
- Train the team for what to expect when a customer encounters your organization.
Empower the team to make decisions
- Give them what they need to take care of the customer and do the right thing.
Always keep track of the metrics
- Staying focused on the immediate goal and the overriding objective of the company.
- If you measure everything, you measure nothing. A leader finds out what is appropriate to track and what isn’t.
Holds everyone accountable
- Hold everyone accountable for delivering the desired results and actions.
- Maintaining the practice of core values with internal and external customers.
- Leaders model the type of behavior they wish to see in their employees. They are the paragon of the company and display the company’s mission at all times.
Recognize and celebrate all wins
- Recognizing the team players in a way that shows appreciation to them.
- Show gratitude and appreciation to the team.
Give continuous feedback
- Providing feedback shows care and/or concern.
- Demonstrates investments in team players.
What makes a leader a leader is how they choose to lead their team. It defines the culture of the workplace, team cohesiveness, the amount of support given and the achievable results.
A good leader is an activator when it comes to the strengths of team, giving them opportunities to be creative and empower change. They encourage, support and foster a culture of trust, transparency and respect in their words and actions. They believe in their team and focus the development of their skills in order to build a high-performance work team that can produce sustainable results.
A bad leader demonstrates a style of leadership that lacks flexibility. It’s a one-size fit all approach that is not personable nor has proven to be effective. The lack of flexibility implies a need for control, so it is only a natural expectation that this leader is only built to give orders and demand expectations. They cannot be innovators if they cannot change or adapt. This behavior often causes immediate disengagement and the need to reassess the situation. Other traits that influence the team engagement scale are; poor communication, hidden agendas, weaponizing feedback, lack of support, development and accountability to name a few. The cause and effect in how this style of leaders conduct themselves will resonate throughout the workplace, creating a culture that is toxic and is instinctually forcing the team into a state of self-survival.
Leadership is about motivating, guiding and empowering a team towards success. Even though there are some shared traits between a good and bad leader, ultimately, every leader makes a conscious decision of how they choose to lead. Being a good and effective leader requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Through the development and focus of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management, this can give a leader a greater opportunity to understand and relate to their team. It also helps establish a more meaningful connection that fosters a positive culture which supports its people and drives successful results.
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. Nelson Mandela