Qualities That Make a Good Leader
There’s plenty of advice available on how to be a good leader, though which will apply to you, your team and your business will
There are three things you need to know in order to be a good leader:
- Know your team, including their strengths and weaknesses
- Know your business’s direction, and how the team can support this vision
- Know yourself – how you feel as a leader and what you aspire towards
Good leaders are confident
When you’re leading a team, you need to be confident in that position. If you’re unsure about your decisions, then this can lead to confusion in the team. If you’re not clear on your qualities as a leader, then your employees may not follow you at all.
You should be assured of your position at the head of the business, and encourage others to trust your decisions and try your methods of working.
Good leaders are good communicators
As we said above, you should have a clear (but flexible) vision of your business’s future and how your team will help bring that vision to life. How well you communicate this vision to your team will directly impact on how well they deliver it.
Another key way good leaders communicate is to motivate their teams. One of the most effective ways of doing this is holding regular employee appraisals to fully assess each employee’s performance and provide feedback.
Good leaders delegate
As you communicate your plan, make sure you empower your team by delegating roles and tasks to them. Get to know each team member’s strengths and weakness so that you’re assigning the best candidate for each role.
Find out about their career and development goals too, so that you can offer them roles they’re most passionate about – which will keep them engaged in the job and provide better results.
It’s important to delegate properly and not micro-manage every step of the project. Trust your team to deliver their best work, and provide them with the resources and support they need. This will foster trust among the team and leave you free to focus on key responsibilities.
Good leaders share accountability
Delegating goes beyond issuing jobs to your team. If they meet or beat their target, make sure you acknowledge and (if appropriate) reward them for a job well done. If they’re struggling, or missed the mark, work with them to identify areas to improve. Sharing the successes and work together on the improvements can improve cohesion and build rapport within the team.
And by placing accountability, both good and bad, where it’s due, you’ll create a sense of responsibility across your team.
Good leaders make decisions
While it’s important to give your team room to approach projects on their own terms, you need to remember that the buck stops with you. That means you’ll need to make the final decision when it’s needed – such as approving concepts or next steps. Again, having a clear vision of your business and its direction will help here.
Just remember to consult key stakeholders when making any major decisions, as they will be the most keenly affected by the results. And don’t be afraid to ask for advice or opinions when you need them.
Good leaders are passionate
Your small business is your dream, but you have to remember that it probably won’t be your employee’s dream – beyond keeping them in a job. But that doesn’t mean that your passion can’t be contagious.
When you’re getting stuck in with the hard work and doing your best, it both shows your team how it’s done and encourages them to do the same. In working alongside your employees on projects, you’ll also likely gain their respect for “pulling your weight” and set a good example of how to work for the benefit of the business.
Just keep in mind that your employees probably won’t have the same innate passion for the business, especially when you’re asking them to go the extra mile.
Good leaders inspire others
As we mentioned above, your employees probably won’t have the same passion for the business that you do, which means you’ll need to find ways to inspire them.
The best way to do this is to set a good example. By being passionate about your job, making crucial decisions with confidence and clearly communicating your plan you’ll find it easier to motivate and inspire employees as they’ll better understand the end goal and how they fit into it.
Also, make sure communication is two-way and that you’re understanding what motivates and inspires each individual employee to get the best out of them and ensure they’re happy in the workplace. As much as it’s your dream business, it’s also their career.
Good leaders dedicate time to their employees
A recurring theme throughout this blog, but one that’s so important it’s worth mentioning in its own point: you need to dedicate time to your team and ensure your employees are engaged.
The best leaders consider themselves part of a team, not in charge of it. Listen to your employees, colleagues, industry peers and shareholders. Seek critical feedback on your own management style and the direction of your business to ensure you’re making informed decisions.
Take time to recognise the career ambitions of your employees and how your business can best support them, so that your staff are more likely to stay on and progress within the business – reducing your need to hire. Be fair with holidays and sick leave, consider offering benefits as and when it’s suitable and affordable.
After all, you can’t lead a team if you don’t have one!
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