It seems that some people are natural born leaders, who are totally comfortable taking the helm and making crucial decisions when called for, as well as being able to communicate effectively with lots of different kinds of people. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t a learnable skill though – anyone can be a strong leader if they adopt and maintain the right behaviours. Here are the five key traits to good leadership.
The proper use of feedback shows a manager’s mettle. In many cases, people fall on either side of the fence, but fail to strike the middle ground required: they either repel any feedback, seeing it as a threat to their authority or ego, or they are too easily swayed by feedback, and find their working style dictated entirely by others. Try to take a step out of yourself when looking at any work situation regarding feedback, and consider how you would regard the situation if you were not involved. Both humility and self-confidence are essential traits of a strong manager.
Risk-taking is an integral part of business management, but in this area too, people often do things to one extreme or the other, where moderation is really required. A manager who blindly jumps into high-risk situations without taking the time to determine the likelihood of success is not going to last long in the industry. On the other hand, a manager who plays it overly safe and never takes any risks is never going to reach their potential. Just like considering the range of feedback received before making a major decision, calculating the chances of success is essential too.
Forward, Flexible and Focused
It may surprise you to know that a focus towards an end goal is not as common a habit as it should be among leaders, but it is an essential component. A manager’s entire journey should be guided by a long-term goal: this will motivate them during times of difficulty, and enable them to adapt on the spot in the event of obstacles arising. Maintaining a positive mindset, nurtured by this goal, will also have a knock-on effect on the rest of the team and raise morale.
Do What You Say and Say What You Do
In business management, authenticity conquers all. Not everybody gets along, but it is much easier to bear someone’s presence if they are honest and open about everything. Relationships often struggle when they are marred by doubt or anxiety, and being less than honest with others can cause this, damaging efficiency in leadership. As a manager, your work should be a natural extension of your own personality: you don’t have to be a different person at work, but simply put a management filter over your true character, and allow your managerial style to flow organically.
The workplace as depicted in the media is very different to the reality, and the main reason for this is that humans and their behaviours and interactions are infinitely varied, and any combination of these can cause friction, cooperation and anything in between. Because of this, as a leader, you shouldn’t be focused on making your entire staff believe you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, but rather nurturing an environment of mutual respect, where everyone understands what is required of them and each other, and is working towards the same goal.
Remember that becoming the best version of your manager self is not about being a different person in the workplace – if nothing else, you should be embracing your natural self more than ever. What you need to do to be the best leader you can be, is lead by example and establish and sustain strong working relationships. Most importantly, be your authentic self, and encourage everyone else to do the same.
By Karen Meager and John McLachlan, co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training