Leadership is a funny thing. To pull from the infamous question to define porn: you know it when you see it – leadership is the same thing. You know it when you see it. Or to be even more opaque about it: you know it when you feel it.
To further muddy the waters, leadership shows up in so many varied ways and in every imaginable human dynamic that it is simultaneously ubiquitous and nearly impossible to pinpoint and define. But, we know it when we experience it.
Some aspects of leadership are universal though, regardless of the scope of the project or context. These qualities are essential and, thankfully, ones that we can continuously refine and sharpen – even when we get off track and lose clarity and momentum.
We are all in position of leadership even if we call it by a different name. Our roles as parents, youth sport coaches, community non-profit engagement, creating a vacation for friends or family, small teams at work, C-level roles…the list goes on and on.
When I reflect on the commonalities of challenge I see my clients face, regardless of the scope of challenge and nor if it takes place at home or in a business setting…these five themes are consistent:
Here are the five qualities that are key to being a great leader:
- Vision: A leader with a strong vision is able to clearly articulate where they want to take their team or organization. They are able to paint a picture of the future that inspires and motivates others to work towards a common goal. A leader with a clear vision is able to rally people around a shared purpose and create a sense of unity and direction. This vision should not be limited to short-term goals, but should also consider the long-term success and sustainability of the organization.
- Integrity: Integrity is a crucial quality for any leader to have. It involves being honest, transparent, and trustworthy. A leader who lacks integrity will struggle to gain the respect and trust of their team. When you lead with integrity, you set a positive example for others to follow and create a culture of honesty and trust within your organization. This culture of integrity should extend to all aspects of the organization, including decision-making, communication, and treatment of employees.
- Adaptability: In today’s fast-paced world, it is more important than ever for leaders to be adaptable. The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and embrace new ideas is essential for any leader who wants to stay relevant and effective. Great leaders are flexible, open to new approaches, and are able to pivot when necessary to achieve goals. This adaptability also means being open to feedback and continuously learning and improving.
- Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to the experiences and perspectives of others. As a leader, it is important to be able to see things from other people’s points of view and to create a sense of belonging and inclusivity. When you are able to empathize with your team, you are able to create a positive and supportive work environment that fosters collaboration and creativity. This empathy should extend to all stakeholders, including customers, clients, and the community.
- Confidence: Confidence is essential for any leader. It allows you to make decisions and take action, even in the face of uncertainty. However, it is important to strike a balance between confidence and arrogance. A great leader is confident in their abilities and decision-making but also recognizes that they do not have all the answers. They are open to discussion and are willing to learn from their mistakes. They inspire confidence in others and create a positive and optimistic team culture.
Being a great leader requires a combination of vision, integrity, adaptability, empathy, and confidence. By possessing these qualities, you will be able to effectively guide and inspire others and create a positive and successful team.
It is important to continuously strive to improve and develop these qualities, as they will not only benefit you as a leader, but also the people you lead and the overall success of your organization.