9 Characteristics of Great Leadership


ID-100209540No matter what the level, if you’re managing people you strive to be a great leader. Although there are some traits that be learned, I believe many great leaders just have an innate instinct when it comes to inspiring people and for those lucky people leading just comes naturally. We recently heard members of the Network of Executive Women speak on this subject and regardless of gender the characteristics of great leadership hold true although women often score much higher.

Which of the following traits do you have?

Personally I like to treat people who work for me like adults.  There have been times in my career where I’ve worked for companies that were going through difficult times. The boss would keep the issues hidden rather than elicit help from employees. I like telling employees what we need to do and asking for their help. Secrets lead to fear and uncertainty. And employees who know they can trust you will often bring issues to the forefront.

Being open to new ideas or a different approach is often hard because you often have your own thoughts and you answer to someone higher up so there’s pressure to deliver. But there’s nothing worse than a boss where their way is the only option. When I had an office, I rarely shut the door and never stood on ceremony and make employees make appointments to me with me.

Builds a collaborative environment.
This is so important to the culture of a company where all too often things are siloed. There are so many ways to build a collaborative environment: cross-departmental meetings and sub groups and even getting out of the office to bowl and change the scenery.

Encourages by mentoring.
I’ve had a few mentors over my career and their help and guidance was invaluable. I believe either directly or indirectly they are responsible for my career. Right now I have a few direct reports who want to learn how to be better managers so we’ve instituted a weekly manager’s meeting to talk about ideas for managing people. We’re all women coincidentally.

Listening skills.
If you’re talking, you’re not listening. And listening is probably one of the most important skills. It’s often hard to hear someone tell you your baby is ugly and to hear the hard truth, but when you’re in your office you’re often not in on the ground floor of what’s happening. I like to make rounds and walk around the office and talk to everyone. You’d be surprised by what you can learn on those half hour trips.

No one wants to work for someone who isn’t passionate about what they do. Enthusiasm breeds more enthusiasm. If you don’t love your job enough to inspire people to work hard or bring ideas, maybe it’s time for a job change.

The worst thing in my book is going to work each day and not being inspired or challenged. At one company I worked everyone said, “He’ll never buy that” when it came to showing the boss creative concepts. They set themselves for failure and for delivering mundane work. One day I presented to the CEO a piece of work no one thought he’d accept. But he did. I had him sign the piece, framed it and hung it on the wall of my office. I pointed to it every time someone said,” He’ll never buy it.”

Practices what she preaches.
You can’t tell someone to do something and then not do it yourself.  That’s one of the hardest things about managing people–practicing what you preach. But if you don’t, you lose your credibility with your direct reports.

Celebrate even the small moments.
A good manager celebrates not just the big wins, but also the daily progress. We have instituted weekly W.I.N.s where each manager reports on three things the team is working on. It’s not trickled down and the co-workers are reporting their wins to their managers. It gives everyone a sense of accomplishment. And on the marketing team, we’ve been handing out reward points for “the best week ever” and the individual who “brings it.”

So what are your management tips? We would love to hear them.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


One Response to “9 Characteristics of Great Leadership”

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>