The American founding father and philosopher, Tomas Payne, left us with a clear-cut understanding of leadership: You can lead, follow, or get out of the way. Leadership qualities are a prime asset, regardless of your line of work or your life goals. Many people have lived their whole lives unaware they have what it takes to be a successful leader. However, before measuring one’s leadership skills, it is important to understand the characteristics and personality traits that make up a good leader.
What is leadership?
Leadership is the ability to guide and influence a group or an organization. Leaders can maximize the efforts of those around them toward the achievement of a common goal.
What makes a good leader?
Potential leaders are not distinguished by their pay grade or seniority but by being people with the initiative to make great things happen. Leaders can take the helm and guide those who follow them through thick and thin.
The characteristics of a good leader include:
- Successful leaders exert social influence: A good leader doesn’t need to be feared by their employeess to get the job done. While many people in leadership positions resort to authority and power to guide their efforts, a true leader can improve employee engagement by creating convenient and efficient work environments.
- A good leader values the skills of others: True leaders understand that everyone has valuable skills. Instead of being hands-on and micromanaging every process, good leaders trust in their workforce and their capacity to succeed.
- They create their own leadership style: There is no cookie-cutter approach to leadership. Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes. Not everyone is a natural-born leader, but those with the right mindset can develop leadership abilities.
- Leaders have goals: The main difference between a leader and other influential people, like vapid social media influencers and scam artists, is that leaders have productive goals to achieve. The efforts of people with leadership capabilities are not only for their personal benefit but also for their teammates and society.
Why are leadership skills important?
Leadership skills are indispensable as they are the cornerstone to growth and productivity. Assertive leaders who treat their workers with integrity and compassion instill confidence in their teams, giving them the determination to do their best.
Every workplace requires people with effective leadership qualities because:
- Good leaders provide focus: An organization without a leader is like a ship without a captain. Leaders are responsible for explaining objectives and setting clear goals. When working under a good leader, all employees understand what they are trying to achieve with their work. Leaders can check their employees’ progress without being intrusive and resolve issues before they get out of hand.
- Employee productivity rises: Employees work to their full potential under effective leadership. Leaders understand the capabilities and technical skills of their teammates. They use this knowledge to give them assignments that take advantage of their strengths to the fullest. Additionally, leaders are empathic individuals and can motivate and encourage other people to do their best.
- Leaders make the big decisions: The success of the decision-making process relies on those in leadership roles. Good leaders have the abilityto make impartial decisions that benefit the project at hand as well as their employees. Likewise, they can assume responsibility for the outcome of their decisions. A good leader will never shift the blame toward other people when they make a mistake.
The benefits of becoming a better leader
- Initiative: As you improve as a leader, you’ll never let a dull moment go by. You will start to see new opportunities everywhere and won’t be frightened to take action. In addition, you’ll be able to anticipate future challenges and plan for them accordingly.
- Trustworthiness: Becoming a better leader will not only improve your self-confidence, but it will also let other people know they can place their trust in you. People who lead with confidence and compassion motivate their teammates and gain their respect. Leaders can give advice with confidence and have a positive impact on the people around them.
- Assuredness: A leader is the kind of person who can set a clear and precise business strategy and follow through to the end. Still, if circumstances change and a course correction is required, true leaders do not flinch. Good leaders receive challenges with open arms and are ready to adapt and overcome them.
- Moderation: As a better leader, you’ll learn to differentiate between the privilege of being a boss and the responsibility of leading people. Instead of spreading yourself thin trying to run every aspect of your projects, you’ll learn when it is necessary to give others the freedom to do their work, try new things, improvise, and even fail.
- Self-improvement: Leaders have the drive and confidence to revise their goals and accept when they’ve made mistakes. If you consider yourself to be a future leader, then you must be ready to look into your flaws and mistakes and learn from them. If you apply yourself, you’ll eventually improve your capacity to lead without even trying.
How to improve leadership skills
Examine your strengths and weaknesses
The ancient Chinese master, Lao Tzu, once said: “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened.” If you know what your strengths are then you can use them to your advantage. In the same vein, being aware of one’s weaknesses is the first step toward improving them.
For instance, if you are a very sociable individual, you can turn that part of yourself into a key aspect of your professional development. The same energy that lets you become the life of the party can be repurposed to motivate your teammates to go all out. If you’re more of a reserved type, then you will be able to multiply your chances for leadership success just by ironing out your communication skills.
Learn how to work with others
The best way to succeed in life is by helping others succeed as well. Soft skills such as patience, empathy, and the drive to collaborate should be as important to a leader as their capacity to handle complicated tasks. As a leader, you should expect to give instructions and explain information over and over again. If you do this reluctantly, then employee morale will suffer as a result.
A leader is also a teacher. Employees look up to leaders to understand how their work should be done, and by teaching them, leaders strengthen their grasp of the processes they’re already familiar with. Additionally, leaders are people who are not afraid of letting their employees share their own knowledge. Remember that every person you’ll meet knows something you don’t.
Be open to new work experiences
A person doesn’t know what walking a thousand miles feels like until they’ve done it themselves. A great way of measuring your leadership competencies is to volunteer for new tasks whenever possible.Doing so will not only enable you to acquire new skills but also give you an opportunity to take on new challenges.
By trying new things, you will learn the value of remaining calm and level-headed in the face of adversity. This way, you’ll better understand how your teammates feel when they are requiredto fulfill tasks that are new to them. Meanwhile, gaining experience in diverse areas is useful for people who make decisions and give instructions, as they’ll know exactly what kind of effort they are demanding from their employees.
How to measure leadership skills
Discover the best assessment tools for measuring leadership effectiveness with HRID’s ID-Leadership test. This test assesses a wide range of skills to measure leadership capabilities. The ID-Leadership test is ideal for individuals who seek or already have a management or mobilization role but can nonetheless be useful for measuring the leadership development of any person.
The ID-Leadership test can effectively gauge leadership skills by measuring the following:
- Leadership style: Assess leadership skills to learn if a person prefers to focus on the rewards of good leadership or if they are more driven to empower others for success.
- Source of motivation: Determine the external and internal factors that motivate a person to exercise their leadership skills.
- Focus: Measure potential leadership performance based on a person’s preference for control or flexibility.
- Fitness for work environments: Discover what work environments are ideal based on a person’s leadership style.
From those embarking on a career in business to existing leaders looking for a capable successor, the ID-Leadership test will give you the information you need to accomplish your goals. As part of a leadership development program, the test is a high-rate tool to gauge leadership profiles and learn how to become a better leader.