7 Characteristics Of A Good Leader – How Many Do You Have?

Characteristics Of A Good Leader

Are you an aspiring or seasoned leader looking to improve your skill set and, ultimately, your performance? In this article, we’ll be exploring seven characteristics of a good leader, alongside eight of the most common leadership styles. So keep reading to find out how many characteristics of a good (or bad!) leader you have!

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What is leadership?

Before we delve into the seven characteristics of a good leader, we should first define what we mean by a leader. So what is leadership? Leadership, according to John Maxwell, ‘is influence – nothing more, nothing less.’ However, while many like John think it’s centred around influence -it’s more than that. It’s a skill that involves guiding, coaching and supporting teams and individuals to ensure they complete goals effectively.

What’s the difference between leadership and management?

While “leadership” and “management” are often used interchangeably – they’re not the same thing. Management refers to the process of ensuring all team members and departments are on the same page when it comes to goals, products, strategies and motivation. In comparison, leadership is the process of guiding the team towards a vision and helping to create the momentum needed to achieve it.

What makes a good leader?

First and foremost, an essential requirement for any leader is to possess self-confidence. After all, if you want to be a leader, you have to be prepared to lead! However, it’s a lot more complex than that.

As a leader, you have the responsibility of deciding when to listen and when to make decisions. This means when you do follow through with decisions, you have to own them – and if they don’t work, you need to be able to admit you were wrong. In this case, a true leader will accept that we all make mistakes.

Ultimately, nobody is perfect, and a good leader understands that you need to keep moving forward, be resilient, and trust that things will get better as a team.

A note on communication types in sales

Your job as a sales professional is to help your prospect feel as comfortable as possible by communicating with them in a manner unique to their personality. Here at SOCO/, we like to call Style flexing. 

It’s known that people like, people like them. They’re comfortable with people who are like themselves. However, please make no mistake; this isn’t simply a case of mirroring their gestures, parroting, or paraphrasing. Instead, you want to adopt characteristics unique to their communication style.

If you want to lead all four communication styles successfully – Supportive, Open, Closed, and Organized – you need to style Flex. Then, adapt your style to suit that of your employees. That will help you to build rapport, trust and foster a great team environment where everyone is supported. 

What’s the difference between a good and bad leader?

Frankly, the bad leader is the boss that you dread working for every day. Good leadership is all about action and proactively developing your team to ensure they hit those targets. In comparison, bad leaders prefer to take full credit for their teams’ hard work and only appear to blame people for mistakes without constructive criticism. Essentially, the bad sales leader is self-centric and refuses to uplift their employees.

Characteristics Of A Good Leader

7 characteristics of a good leader

Now you understand the difference between good and bad leaders, we can delve into the characteristics that create them. Below, we’ll start by exploring the seven personality traits of a good leader. How many can you identify in yourself?

1. Inspires others

The most notable hallmark of a good leader is inspiring the people they lead, particularly by uncovering opportunities in challenges and pushing their team to reach new heights. However, good leaders don’t just tell employees they are deeply committed to this approach. Instead, they physically demonstrate their commitment in every meeting, presentation, and customer interaction by embracing vulnerability and the possibility of failure. 

2. Earns trust

How can you begin to inspire employees? It all starts with trust. Good leaders understand that having an abundance of empathy is critical to earning trust. More so, they know that it’s the key to understanding their employees’ problems so that they can help to overcome them. Furthermore, empathy isn’t just about understanding how people feel. It can help you make better predictions, improve strategies, and increase creativity amongst your team while inspiring loyalty.

3. Fosters a team environment

How do you receive the best performance from your employees? First, you foster a good team environment that can ultimately build a productive and self-sufficient momentum. But, how? Good leaders know that all teams, much like families, have values and their own unique culture. The trick is to understand how they work as people and stick to the shared values the team has agreed upon – so that everyone feels they have a place in the group.

4. Sets a good example

Leading by example is a necessary process to influence the future behaviour and attitudes of employees. Why? Because leading by example helps other people see what lies ahead and will help develop their skills and ability to deal with challenges along the way.

5. Sets and communicates clear goals

Although busy, good leaders never cut corners on communication. They understand the value of not being misunderstood, especially when time is a critical factor. More so, by possessing excellent communication skills, good leaders avoid hurting feelings, projects or team relations. Therefore, a good leader sets and communicates clear goals by dedicating the right amount of time to share these.

6. Listens to others

Good leaders that operate an open-door policy are constantly on the pulse of their teams’ success and challenges. They value any feedback and encourage this to ensure that they reach their common goal collectively. More so, by actively listening to their team, good leaders find the story behind the message. In other words – the opportunity beyond the issue.

7. Recognises achievements

Feedback shouldn’t just occur when providing criticism. Instead, To foster a great team environment, you need to show appreciation and gratitude for your teams’ commitment to success. Why? Because nothing ruins your team’s commitment more than when their efforts are unnoticed by leadership. Therefore, good leaders know that it only takes a “thank you” to inspire and foster a close-knit team environment.

7 Characteristics Of A Bad Leader

1. Instills fear

Have you ever heard of a leader proudly exclaiming that they use fear to manage and lead their team? Of course, not! But bad leaders are notorious for using this misled tactic. Consequently, they find that teamwork becomes less collaborative and, therefore, less productive.

2. Demands respect

One of the biggest pitfalls of a bad leader is that they often demand respect rather than earning it. The result? They don’t cultivate any commitment or respect amongst their employees, which causes engagement to drop and job vacancies to rise.

3. Pits employees against each other

A bad leader often pits employees against each other as a motivational tactic. Not only is this morally wrong, but it’s a sure way to drive incredible employees away because of increasing resentment and a sour work environment.

4. Says one thing but does another

In the same fashion, bad leaders often say one thing – but then do something completely different. Not only is this confusing for employees, but this type of miscommunication will cause delays and mistakes.

5. Is vague about desired outcomes

Leaders are essential to an organisation’s success, so we always set out clear goals and outcomes for employees to follow. Unfortunately, bad leaders fail to do this, possibly because they’re unsure of their vision or even the team’s collective mission. In turn, this causes wide-set confusion, low productivity and disgruntled employees.

6. Thinks they know everything

Leaders are essential to an organisation’s success, so we always set out clear goals and outcomes for employees to follow. Unfortunately, bad leaders fail to do this, possibly because they’re unsure of their vision or even the team’s collective mission. In turn, this causes wide-set confusion, low productivity and disgruntled employees.

7. Rubs in mistakes

Lastly, bad sales leaders prefer to constantly remind their team of their mistakes, when instead they should be coaching them through how to avoid it in the future. In comparison, good leaders practice the art of praise in public; correct in private.

What’s the difference between a good, and a great leader?

Sure, it’s perfectly acceptable to have the characteristics of a good leader, but fostering the characteristics of a great leader is even better. Mostly because great leaders possess an objective perspective and can skillfully balance foresight, performance, and character. So if you’re a good leader, but you’re ready to expand your skill set, check out what attributes you need to focus on developing next: 

1. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (also known as EQ or EI) is the capacity to recognise your emotions, understand what they’re telling you, and how they can affect others. Furthermore, EI is the ability to understand and manage others’ feelings. So to be a great leader, it’s imperative to know that the individuals on your team have different personalities, needs and desires. More so, you know that everyone has their way of showing their emotions and can use this knowledge to create and direct positive outcomes for you and your team.

2. Innovative thinking

Good leaders have an excellent understanding of traditional business thinking, but great leaders possess the power of innovative thinking. 

Leaders who focus on innovative thinking bring new ideas and energy to their role, seamlessly paving the way for the organization – and its mission. Why? Because great leaders are finished building and are ready to take their team to the next level with a courageous desire to change, create and inspire those in their industry. Therefore not only are great leaders visionaries who bring ideas to life – but they also motivate others to fulfil them.

3. Appreciation for criticism

Good leaders can accept criticism, but great leaders welcome feedback and advice. They view criticism as a natural part of leadership and a resource to develop rather than a threat. More so, they understand that the bigger the organization is, the more criticism they’ll receive. So they intercept this early by fostering a solid perspective and mindset that won’t deter them from reaching their goals.

4. Laser-focused on turning weaknesses into strengths

Great leaders don’t just find solutions to their employee’s weaknesses. Instead, they recognise the major warning signs and act quickly to develop and strengthen them. Smart considering that 40% of employees who don’t receive adequate training end up leaving their post within a year. So it’s fair to say that you have to be ahead of your team’s training needs to retain the best talent and be a great supportive leader.

Hone Essential Management Skills & Build High-Performance Sales Teams

A high performing team is highly motivated. They take on challenges with an eagerness to exceed expectations, and they don’t blindly follow orders; they look to improve upon them.

Leading a team to new heights takes understanding your team’s unique strengths, how to navigate uncharted territory and how to inspire them to reach their maximum potential. It takes a talented leader to do that.

Join the Management Mastery course, where we cover the essential management skills every leader needs to bring out the best of their team, whether they’re working in the office, at home, or in a blended environment.

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