Effective leaders and leadership
Whether you think that leaders are born or made – or a bit of both – there are still some characteristics that distinguish leaders from others. Have you wondered if you or someone you know is a natural leader? Are you interested in learning some characteristics of good leadership? Here are some personality characteristics that tend to go with effective leaders.
Are you the kind of person who likes to get things done? Do people come to you and ask you to do something for them and know you’ll do it? Not everyone is task-oriented, but those who are may end up being effective leaders. Being task-oriented means being a “doer,” the kind of person who focuses on getting something done and not stopping until the task is finished.
Task-oriented people generally follow through. This is important in a leader, because leaders have definite goals to reach and people to lead, and people will stop following you if you don’t get things finished.
Also, task-oriented leaders do not need “babysitting” to get something done. They can take initiative on their own – the task itself is motivation.
Leaders tend to be pretty honest about their weaknesses and strengths, but not to the point of letting either one take over. For instance, a leader can balance between recognizing his weakness and not letting that stop him/her, and a leader can see his/her strengths without getting conceited – that’s honest self-image. Those in leadership positions may find that they garner more respect when they are honest and “transparent” about their flaws than if they pretend to be perfect.
A leader tends to be a people person – someone who derives lots of energy from being around people. Such extroverted personalities make great leaders, but introverts are not barred from leadership, either. You can have a love for people and be introverted; you just respond differently to interacting with others.
In other words, you can be a “people person” even if you find yourself tired of leading at the end of a day. Extroverts and introverts can both be motivated by a love for people and their wellbeing.
Have you ever been around someone who just seems happy with life in general? If a person shares an idea or thought and seems really happy about it, do you feel like joining him or her? Leaders tend to exhibit this kind of infectious joy that draws other people to them. Positive-thinking leaders have a zest for life that compels other people to join them.
The general consensus is, characteristics of a good leader can be in-born or learned, or a bit of both. If you don’t have all of these traits naturally, you can learn many of them. No two leaders are the same.
Leadership in the workplace
Many jobs require that employees be “team players.” You may hear that so often that it becomes meaningless. But it isn’t – being a team player is a fairly broad term, and it can include an important attribute that employers appreciate: leadership.
Being a leader in the workplace does not necessarily mean being a boss, manager, supervisor, or other “official” position, although it can mean that. Being a leader in the workplace can also mean setting a good example for others and/or heading up office programs and projects.
Here are some tips and ideas on how to be a leader in the workplace.
There’s a saying that can serve you well in the workplace: “Never let them see you sweat.” Of course, no one is perfect; but appearing confident inspires others to trust you and take your advice. One way to ensure that you appear self-assured is not to talk too much about your fears and concerns. Talk to friends outside of the workplace about your uncertainties.
See the Good in Others
Being able to see the good traits in others is a useful leadership trait in the workplace. If you need to put certain people in charge of certain tasks, it pays to know who will do well with what task. You also may see potential in a co-worker and “stretch” him or her by requesting a task that might be a bit challenging. This improves the overall skill set of the workforce, and helps build self-esteem in your co-workers.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
There’s a difference between being a people person and being a people pleaser. Being a people person means you have a genuine love for people, but you’re not afraid to ask people to do things. Being a leader doesn’t mean just doing everything yourself; it means you are comfortable giving up some control and delegating tasks to others.
No one wants to work for or with someone who doesn’t appreciate them. If you let everyone know you appreciate what they’ve done and how they’ve given their time and talents, it can go a long way. It’s always good to remember that there would be no leaders if there weren’t any followers. People who are appreciated may be more likely to follow your lead next time.
If you step up with ideas on how to solve dilemmas, problems, and so forth, and have resourceful ideas about how to accomplish something, then speak up. Employers value the ability to think through a problem and find a creative solution. This is a valuable leadership quality.
Effective leadership of adults
Leading children or youths is one thing, but leading adults who are your age or older is a different matter. An entirely different approach is called for, but some of the principles are the same no matter what age you’re leading.
Maybe you are going to be training a group of adults for a specific vocation, or perhaps you have to organize a community consignment sale. Maybe you need to find volunteers for a work or church function. There are all kinds of situations where adults need to lead adults. Here are some keys to being an effective leader of your fellow adults.
Know Where You’re Going
No one wants to follow someone who has no idea where they’re going! Having a goal or vision is essential. It’s possible that it may evolve or change as you go forward – it’s good to be flexible, too – but when you start out, having a clear vision can inspire others to follow you. If you really believe in it and know it can be done, your enthusiasm tends to be infectious. People like to get on board with someone who knows where to steer the ship!
As noted above, it’s good to be flexible, and that’s where listening comes in. As you express your vision and goal, even if it’s just getting things done well and on time, it’s a good idea to listen to the input of others. Someone might point out something you hadn’t taken into consideration, or he/she might have a good point about your choice of venue.
Obviously, a good leader can’t please every person’s whim, but you can take people’s concerns into consideration. If everyone seems to be saying the same thing, maybe you should change your plans a bit! People tend to appreciate a leader who listens, even if it doesn’t always mean change.
In addition to a clear goal, you’ll need clear steps on how to reach that goal (or multiple goals). Explaining a “contagious” vision is great, but teaching people how you plan to realize that vision is important. It can seem unrealistic if you don’t explain your plan. Break it down into doable steps, and present those to those in your group. A big part of this, of course, is being organized.
If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, no one else will, either! Make sure you are confident and certain of your plan and your goals. Sources agree that it’s not a good idea to be overly confident to the point that you don’t listen to anyone or heed their concerns; but confidence, like an exciting vision, is contagious. Be sure of yourself and what you want to accomplish.