When you look back on your life, who were the people that inspired you, motivated you and made you feel like you could succeed? It could be a parent, a boss, a role-model or anyone you looked at as a leader. When I think about the leaders in my life that made the biggest impression on me, they were not the ones looking over my shoulder to make sure I was doing everything right. They were the people who empowered me to believe in myself and the ones who believed in me so much, I wanted to show them I could be successful.
There are specific types of leaders called transformational leaders. This approach to leadership is defined as one that inspires others to strive beyond required expectations to work toward a shared vision. When it is successful, transformational leadership creates valuable and positive change in those who are following, with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.
Here are some of the most essential qualities of these leaders:
True enthusiasm for a cause, a project, a job or anything else cannot be faked for long. When leaders are sincerely enthusiastic and passionate, it spills over to the people around them and serves as its own kind of motivation.
Whether it’s making safety a priority, applauding accomplishments of team members or admitting when mistakes have been made, great leaders always lead with integrity. They do what’s right, even if doing so will not benefit them.
Self-Awareness & Authenticity
Transformational leaders are introspective and work to develop a deep understanding of who they are. They use this to marry their goals with the needs of the larger group. These leaders accept their imperfections and bring their true, authentic selves into their leadership roles where they guide with vision and compassion in a way that inspires others.
Great Communication Skills
Leaders must motivate, train and direct the people they are leading. Without strong communication, none of these things can be accomplished. Part of being a great communicator is being a great listener, so good leaders must listen as much as (or more than) they speak.
Ability to Collaborate
Good leaders regularly enlist the help of others on their team. They identify goals, schedule meetings or have discussions and then use what they learn from that communication to tackle solving big problems they would not have been able to solve on their own.
Transformational leaders must have a healthy dose of humility. They are constantly listening to and learning from others and must always remain teachable. Knowing that they do not have all the answers enables them to be flexible, so they can cope with and thrive in an environment of change.
The best leaders understand that true loyalty is a two-way street. Because of this, they express their loyalty in ways that benefit those they are leading. They show their loyalty by ensuring all team members have the training and resources necessary to do their jobs. These are the leaders who stand up for their teams whenever there is a crisis or conflict.
A good leader is not just empowered to make decisions; they are willing to take on the risk of decision making, as well. They are the ones on the line if their decisions don’t work out. Indecisive leaders are usually ineffective. Too much time spent trying to build consensus can have a negative impact.
Let’s face it, people are much more likely to follow the lead of those they like. The most successful leaders are approachable, friendly and well-spoken. They also show sincere care for others.
You’ve probably heard the expression “born leader.” The phrase implies a person is born with the qualities that make him or her a good leader. However, this is not necessarily the case. It’s true that some people are born with certain traits that can make it easier for them to lead, but skills and qualities that make a good leader can also be learned. And, leadership abilities can always be improved upon over time. So “born leaders” may have an advantage, but lots of people can lead if they have the drive and the desire to do so.