Being a great leader is a daunting task, with many practices and theories on how to best lead others. Regardless of which method works for you, there are some attributes all great leaders share, and the best news is it’s possible to develop these characteristics with study, accountability, and effort.
Having an idea is easy- it’s the execution that’s challenging. Big ideas require buy-in from multiple people or departments to bring them to life. Leadership is about casting a vision people will collaborate and work towards together- so they aren’t working for you, but for the idea.
Most great leaders I’ve served with have some combination of the following seven characteristics.
- Confidence. Business consultant Suzanna Bates says, “Confidence and vision paired together breed a distinct kind of optimism in an organization. They ignite a sense that it’s ok to take a risk, try something new and push ahead. When confident leaders express frame-changing vision, they inspire those around them to take bold action
“Confidence is contagious and elevates morale. No one else will be confident if you’re not.”Beth guckenberger, recklessfaith.com
- Trustworthiness. Character is critical for a great leader. People need to trust someone before they will follow them. We demonstrate this through honesty, taking on the hardest tasks, vulnerability, showing respect to everyone, and keeping your word.
- Enthusiasm. Be enthusiastic about the task at hand, your role in it, and the opportunity to lead towards the outcome. Demonstrate the type of enthusiasm you’d like to see in your team members. Let everyone know you believe in the mission and its importance. Sometimes a well-timed break in workflow is in order, for restoration and increased creativity. Enthusiasm can wane under a never-ending workload.
- Steadiness. There will be obstacles and times of uncertainty. Great leaders weather these situations and stay steadfast, which keeps the rest of the team focused. Be positive, confident, composed. These are the times the team will rely on your strength. While it’s natural to have doubts, it’s not always effective to widespread share them. If you need someone to talk to, reach out to a trusted confidant.
- Focus. It’s easy to become distracted, especially when things start going wrong or iterations on the project distract. Learn to ignore the noise, stick to the relevant facts, and prioritize. Focus can creep when projects are developed over an extended period of time. Return to your mission frequently to keep focus fresh.
- Flexibility. Nearly anyone can hold the course, but only great leaders can change course without tipping the ship. Be open-minded enough to find elegant solutions to the ongoing challenges. It’s normal to expect course corrections, they are the rule rather than the exception.Avoid confusing steadfastness with stubbornness. It’s important to realize when it’s time to make some changes.
- Communication. To effectively communicate vision requires practice and grace. Be willing to listen to new ideas and be challenged, without defensiveness. Keep everyone informed, so nothing is held up while someone is waiting for information. Of all skills required of a leader, this is the most critical.
Learning to demonstrate these attributes will enhance your leadership abilities and increase your influence at work. Leadership skills are developed with intentionality over time. Recognize God will equip you with what you need if He’s called you to it and walk into your work with the confidence He who began this good work in you, will carry it on to completion! (Phil. 1:6)