Qualities of an Effective Leader

Qualities of an Effective Leader

Here is a preview of different attributes that I feel are essential qualities of effective leader.

I’m drawing on a range of experiences and sectors. Some are personal experiences and some are observations.  However, the application of these attributes is very wide. Leadership is something that is carried out in the home, workplace, community and institutions, including government.  I invite you to think about these attributes in the range of contexts that you occupy. Let me know your thoughts…..

An effective leader…..

Is Intuitive – sometimes the inner voice, the gut instinct is a more powerful guide than a ‘rule book’ and not everything has a manual so a good leader needs to draw on other sources and recognise the signs that they are being guided.  If you’re ‘not feeling that’ or have a ‘gut feeling’ or ‘you’re spirit is not taking’ to something or someone then listen to that! Recognise that your intuition may go against the grain of what is expected or permitted and so working intuitively requires confidence and courage. Dare to do!

Is visionary – a leader has a long view, a sense of what something should look like or be. They have sense of the process that it will take and a clear vision of a destination and key milestones along the way. They are also acutely aware that the road to success is not a straight one and so is able to adapt the course and the vision according to the context they are in. Leadership is not just about the here and now and so Leaders often think in the long term – decades or generations and have a sense of the impact they want their vision to have.

Delegates – Leaders know and respect that others must play their part and that they have a complimentary skill set to their own. They focus on the big picture and delegate segments of the task/role with wisdom.  Sometimes they delegate to get a job done well or quickly and sometimes to ups-skill and challenge a team member – therefore delegating to help build capacity. They maintain an overview and monitor rather than micro-manage, which is a disempowering approach to those whom you are leading or working with.

Listens – to a range of views and gives due consideration before making a decision. They are not dismissive or oppositional but listens with wisdom and credits those who have influenced their own thinking.

Respects followership – recognises that to be a leader you must have followers and that leaders attract a followership that is reflective of them. So the quality of their engagement is key to their ability to remain in leadership.  The immediate circle around the leader must be built on mutual respect, honesty and trust. A leadership built on sycophantic followership is doomed as honesty and openness are not part of the value base and there are several examples in history of the outcome of leadership cultivated in a climate of fear, suspicion and side talking.

Is willing to learn – they know that they are in charge and have power over their domain and perhaps a wider sphere of influence outside of it. Yet they recognise that they do not know everything and remain humble and a student to an ever – teaching environment. They know they have to work on themselves and are not arrogant in assuming that they have reached their destination where learning is concerned. ‘I know that already’ is the vocabulary of an arrogant leader.

Knows how to inspire and encourage people – knows how to bring out the best in people and has wisdom to help people with blocks or over hurdles. They have a ‘half full’ mentality when they look at the glass and have a mindset nurtured in positivity and victorious thought.  They also know where to go when they need inspiration and encouragement. A demoralised team or followership is one whose days are numbered unless the leader knows how to turn things around.

Knows own strengths and limitations – connects to both an ability to make good delegations, a willingness to learn and listen.  They may not wear their weakness on their sleeve but they sure will be aware of it in making their decisions!  A good leader will have their deficits covered within the team and appreciate the person(s) contributions rather than feel threatened by them.

Is a clear communicator – getting the best from people requires that you are clear about expectations and that these have been communicated to the team. They also recognise that communication is a two way thing and involves giving, receiving and interpreting.

Is approachable – what happens if you’ve cultivated a team that is reluctant to seek clarification from you? What happens of the team cannot contact you most times when they need you?  What happens if your team has to go through copious protocols to speak with you? 24/7 availability may be problematic but so is wading through treacle to engage with you.

Knows how to succession plan – seeing the strengths in each person, nurturing and challenging is what leaders do, sometimes overtly sometimes discreetly.  Know that whatever you are part of or whatever you are building must not die with you so preparation is key.  Get the right balance!

Knows how to ask the right questions – this is how we learn. A good leader is one that is a perpetual student and is not afraid to let you know it! Asking the right questions is also one of the ways you get the best out of people.  Are they intellectually challenged by engaging with you? Do they have to raise their game when the dialogue with you? Does what you get back enrich you or enhance your ability to lead?

Knows how to create a climate of co-operation – How you start is critical to how you will function!