The state of leadership is ever-changing. In order to stay on top of your game and lead a successful team, you'll need to identify your leadership trait strengths and areas for improvement.
The skills you focus on developing vary depending on the type of team you lead. For example, you'll need to develop different skills for a remote team compared to a local team. If your team is all new graduates, you'll have to take a different approach than a team of industry veterans. However, there are common traits that successful leaders share.
Not sure where to start? Let's identify what leadership traits are and the top leadership traits of successful leaders.
Leadership traits are qualities that define successful leaders. Leaders are more much more than managers. They're individuals that guide others towards reaching their goals and growing within their roles. They can serve as mentors within their organizations. Successful leaders are often company brand ambassadors and help motivate others to reach their potential.
It's crucial to identify and promote individuals with the potential for leadership over management. You'll want to choose individuals that have the potential to grow others within the organization and already exhibit some of the traits below. While you can train someone to be a good manager, it's better to promote someone that demonstrates leadership.
Below is a list of common traits of leaders that reach their goals and succeed within their roles.
As a leader, you need to communicate your vision and goals to your team clearly and effectively so everyone's on the same page. It's better to over-communicate and be transparent than to leave someone in the dark. The ability to listen is just as important (if not more) than being able to communicate what you mean. Have an open ear to your employee's concerns and how they feel about what they're working on. A two-way street of communication is key for employee happiness and growth within your team.
Strong communication skills are a must for those leading remote or hybrid teams. Everyone needs to be informed of what is going on. Have frequent and consistent check-ins with all members of the team in order to get a good pulse of satisfaction and goal progression. If you can, make them face-to-face via video conferencing to strengthen your leader-team member relationship. Make use of all communication platforms to accommodate preferences and time zone differences.
Honesty is always the best policy and that doesn't change for strong leaders. Having an honest approach is crucial for how you approach your team members, your leaders, and even how you evaluate yourself. To be a strong leader, be honest with your team about expectations and performance. Don't get tangled in a web of lies since the truth always comes out.
If you aren't confident as a leader, your team will doubt your decisions and ability to lead. This can lead to a negative cycle where your team disrespects your authority. Try to speak with confidence and be assured about the projects you implement on your team. Your confidence can transfer on to others and create buy-in behind goals. Confidence helps you become influential and get greater support behind your work
Leaders are often passionate about the work they do. If you aren't passionate, it's unlikely that your team will be passionate either. Try to maintain an energetic attitude and stay optimistic about your progress. There will always be setbacks, but you should use them as learning opportunities and stay positive for the future.
Successful leaders have goal-focused mindsets. Without goals, your team will have nothing to work towards and there can be a lack of purpose. Sit down quarterly and identify the milestones you want your team to hit monthly and use a project management tool to track progress. By constantly evaluating your goals and your team's progress towards them, you'll be able to create an agile team that's improving consistently.
Set a clear vision for the team and create strategic goals that will help you achieve that mission. Your goals need to be realistic so you can ensure consistent performance. The team should see their progress toward the goals and not find what they're working towards to be unreachable.
When you set goals and introduce them to your team, you need to ensure that everyone is accountable for their contribution, including yourself. Take responsibility for your actions, be firm in your decisions, and follow through with what you say. Lead by example for your team. Additionally, leaders need to hold their teams accountable for getting their work done. Create a cycle of trust between you and your team so everyone stays accountable.
A great leader never stops learning. Great leaders recognize that they need to continue to grow to improve and ensure that their practices aren't outdated. They often learn, unlearn, and relearn in order to stay on top of their game. Learning opportunities come from your direct reports, your leadership equivalents, and even your boss. Education is not just a top-down approach.
Successful leaders are often spending their time outside of work learning. This can take the form of attending conferences, leadership workshops, taking online classes, reading relevant books, and more. Find the style of learning that works best for you and will have the most impact on your career.
You can set goals, but you should also motivate your team to reach them. A successful leader is can motivate their team (and themselves) to improve and reach the progress expected. You'll need to teach your team to identify what motivates them and use that motivation to help improve.
Being a good leader means being able to coach your team in areas where they can improve, and you should focus on developing your team. Provide consistent feedback by having regular 1-on-1's where you meet and discuss areas for improvement and what's going well.
Some team members might need some more time for development – have patience and don't give up on them. Make sure that feedback is a two-way street where your team can provide you with areas of improvement also. Being approachable helps you build trust with your team members.
A successful leader is flexible and can roll with the punches. If you have a remote team, this is an important trait to have. Not everyone works the same way, so try to be as reasonable as you can in accommodating other's work schedules. Be adaptable to changes and recognize that each week might be a little different.
Leaders that see team-wide success are inclusive leaders. You'll need to develop relationships between team members and don't practice favoritism and focus on having a diverse team. Managers that lead remote or hybrid teams need to take an active approach to include all employees in events and meetings. Listen to team feedback, respond to their needs, and find solutions when you can.
With these traits and skills, leaders are sure to find success. Looking for more? Check out these tips for fostering inclusivity on your team next.