9 Leadership Traits to Becoming a Great Leader
Posted by Administration August 1st 2013
In a recent study of 71 leaders it was found that ineffective leaders could indeed change their spots. The study showed that leaders moved from the 26th percentile to the 56% by changing nine specific behaviors. These nine behaviors were tracked over a 12-18 month period of time using a 360 degree feedback process. Here’s what the results showed:
- Leaders that focused on improving their communication effectiveness improved dramatically. The issue was not about learning new skills, but about actually practicing those skills they already had more consistently. The reality is we already possess many skills but have not made them part of our daily menu of communication. As a result, we default into our old ways of communicating without even knowing.
- Not surprisingly leaders that made an effort to share their knowledge and expertise more widely were able to make significant gains in leadership effectiveness. What studies have shown is ineffective leaders tend to hold or not communicate enough information often enough to their peers and employees. Poor leaders tend to be stingy with information and know-how. The simple act of sharing information on a regular and timely basis brings greater cohesion and community to any organization.
- They began to encourage others to do more and to be better. Encouraging others to do more and do better is no secret to good leadership. What is important here is realizing that challenges are the fuel for growth. When leaders fail to inspire others to do better they inadvertently send the opposite message. What people need is someone who will inspire them to be more than they are today and reach for greater personal and professional success. But it comes with a condition. Those leaders have to be willing to set the example of excellence as well. Otherwise it will backfire.
- Like it or Not they recognized that they were role models and needed to set a good example. No characteristic is more important than personal example. Example is better than precept. Unless we become the change we seek all our words fall on vacant ears. This in fact is the one area where all leaders of all professions are most humbled by. Knowing something is different than practicing it. The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson best summarize this dilemma, “What you are is speaking so loud I can’t hear a word you are saying.” The fact that all the 71 leaders in the study were surprised to discover that they were perceived as hypocritical speaks volumes.
- They developed a broader perspective. No quality is more essential for a good leader than developing a global outlook. Leaders who lose the big picture tend to become lost in the daily distractions and entanglements of running any organization. They key is to stay tuned to the constantly changing global workplace and take advantage of the opportunities as they emerge. Innovation and creatively are the step children of a broad and finely tuned global perspective.
- They began to champion their team’s new ideas. Many of our 71 leaders were also surprised to learn that their teams considered them to be the “Abominable NO man (or woman).” When they shifted from discouraging new proposals to encouraging and supporting innovative ideas and thinking, positive changes occurred.
- They learned to recognize when change was needed. More generally, our successful leaders were those who learned to willingly support and embrace change and encourage others to do so as well. How? Essentially, by becoming more proactive — that is, by doing a better job of spotting new trends, opportunities and potential problems early.
- They improved their ability to inspire and motivate others. Practically all of the actions we’ve already mentioned create a more inspirational environment. In addition, there were two notable things these leaders did to inspire others. First, they did a better job keeping people focused on the highest priority goals and objectives. Second, they made a special effort to stay in touch with the concerns and problems of their teams. When a leader is the last to know that an employee is having difficulties, others interpret that as a lack of concern. Providing support and assistance to an employee in difficult circumstances not only helps that employee, but also reassures others they can expect to receive the same treatment.
- They began to encourage cooperation rather than competition. Many leaders come out of school believing that work is a zero-sum game that creates winners and losers and so they compete in an effort to get ahead. Battles are costly and consume a great deal of resources. In the long run, internal competition causes every participant to lose. When leaders look for ways to encourage cooperation and generate common goals they become more successful.
As you review this list of what our bad leaders did to improve, we believe you’ll agree that what we are describing are common virtues that had not been practiced commonly enough. Our data shows that taking these steps are especially effective in increasing the success of leaders who’ve been formerly regarded as poor, but they can improve all leaders. To us, that means that everyone — bad leaders, average leaders and even good leaders — can change their spots. So, what’s holding you back?
As we enter the third millennium, humanity stands at the edge of a precipice. Humanity is faced by a range of seemingly insurmountable problems; uncontrolled population growth, diminishing resources, nuclear proliferation, racial antagonism, religious based terrorism, ethnic and territorial ambition, and the destruction of the environment. More importantly, our significant intellectual and scientific gains have failed to bring us any closer to achieving true civilization in which the inner human and spiritual needs of humanity have been...read more