Traits Successful Leaders PossessPosted 1/13/2005
Patrick Donadio, MBA
Improving leadership skills allows for advancement within a company and increases the performance of those with whom you work. As a leadership communications coach, I have created a new program, "Grade Yourself as a Leader," in which I have identified 22 traits that successful leaders possess. Following is an overview of those traits. Which ones do you need to work on to reach your next level of leadership?
Visible - By circulating around the workplace, you will appear more approachable and available. Take advantage of every opportunity to interact with co-workers. Be supportive of others and try to help out with the little things. Walk into the bay area and have a brief conversation as you help a co-worker with a customer's car. Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) works! Make sure to practice visibility upward as well as downward.
Consistent - Don't be a tyrant one day and a pussycat the next. Flip-flopping between styles confuses employees. Stick with one style of leadership. Those who look to you for leadership must know what to expect on a daily basis. Also, make decisions consistently. It is important not to bring personal feelings to the workplace. When dealing with employees, stay focused on the situation or issue, not on the person. We connect with some workers better than others. Try not to let the relationship taint your response. Treat all employees equally. Enforce company policies fairly. It is more difficult with the co-workers who are different from you.
Initiate - Try initiating conversations to help find better solutions. Asking questions is a great way to initiate conversations. Try asking open-ended questions. For example: "What can we do better as a company?" Don't always dictate change. Initiate change by creating an atmosphere where creative juices can flow freely. Encourage suggestions for improvement. Set out a suggestion box and reward good suggestions. Continually strive to get better.
Positive - You set the tone for your environment. An optimistic attitude from a leader can carry over to others. What type of tone are you setting at the shop? Is it one of optimism or one of pessimism? Confidence is contagious; so is the lack of it. Employees mirror the tone that leaders set. Be an encourager.
Responsible - Leaders accept challenges as well as successes. If an employee makes a mistake, it is your responsibility to help him or her improve. Employees will never respect a leader who deflects criticism toward the team. Successful leaders think of themselves as "we," not "I." It is a leader's responsibility to ensure that everyone shares in the team's success.
Listen - The most important characteristic of a leader is being a good listener. Focus on the needs of your employees. Often people feel afraid of, or intimidated by, management. Make sure you show people you are willing to listen to what they have to say, that they are important and worthy of your time.
Open the doors of two-way communication. Don't fall into the trap of telling others what to do without considering their opinions. No person - at any age - enjoys being told what to do. Even if you know the answer, listen respectfully and hear out a question. This will help you open up communication between you and the workers.
Recognize - Most people care more about recognition from peers than about money. When an employee performs well, let him or her know. Each day, give five sincere compliments to various workers in your section. Be on the lookout for something they did well and give them a bit of praise. Happy people give better customer service. Create awards and rewards of good customer service.
Communicate - Good leaders are good communicators. They clearly convey their message in a way that connects with the listener. Good leaders understand that you tailor your message to the needs of each worker. If someone is analytical, construct your message focusing on facts and data. If someone is more relational, construct your message in a way that conveys emotion and focuses on how the change impacts people.
Fun - A successful leader has fun in the process. Lightness can complement the seriousness of the job. A fun environment doesn't indicate a lack of professionalism. In fact, a fun environment contributes to the team's results and retention. Are you a fun leader?
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