As you may know, leadership is simply the ability to attain followers. Leaders throughout history commonly possess certain traits and characteristics in order to create an environment where followers buy into the practices and ideas of their leadership. The uniqueness of the leader’s attributes causes them to emerge into this role. But what are these specific attributes and how can emerging leaders develop their skills?
Here are five unique characteristics of leadership for which emerging leaders can put into practice in their daily lives.
Leaders must remain persistent and committed to a cause in order to experience success with their end message. The old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” is a key component of this leadership aspect. Knowing your core values and staying true to them is also a must for this role. In order to strategically achieve the future or intended state, leadership entails a great deal of persistence.
Martin Luther King Jr. remained persistent in order to achieve enlightenment towards Civil Rights reform. Respecting his core values of Christian beliefs, he led many down the path of peaceful protest of unjust Civil Rights Laws (Etienne, n.d.).
Hearing “no” to your ideas is not a bad thing. But your next course of action is what establishes your leadership style. Letting that “no” defeat you is what sets apart potential leaders and historical leaders. Persevere beyond what others perceive as acceptable at that time, and stay true to your values
2. Valuable Networks
As a novice leader, it is important to remember to surround yourself with others who will only enhance your cause. These are the people who are worthy of your time and energy, and will bring you closer to leadership success. John C. Maxwell, leadership expert, suggests leveraging all your relationships in a positive way. By utilizing the people you have already established relationships with, you have an arsenal of talents right at your fingertips.
Maxwell suggests that you can even take this concept one step further and build on the contact those people have as well. By being people centric, you have already conquered a strong attribute of a strong leader. Remember, if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Surround yourself with those who can enhance you personally, spiritually, academically, and financially.
All people are NOT created equal. Everyone comes from a different cultural, geographic, and socio-economic background. With that in mind, it is important for leadership to treat everyone fairly, not the same.
A carefully thought out communication approach, tailored to the receiver’s communication style and personality type, can made a good leader even more effective. According to HelpGuide.Org:
Effective communication is the glue that helps you deepen your connections to others and improve teamwork, decision making, and problem solving. It enables you to communicate even negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust (n.d.)
By knowing your audience and tailoring your message you will have greater success in delivering your message for your followers to enact. Respect and approach each situation as though you have no prior knowledge of how to handle it. Treat the opportunity like a blank canvas to strategize new ways of approaching issues.
As a leader you cannot devote all your time and energy to the small tasks. Leaders need to be concerned with the bigger picture and future outcomes. Being able to delegate tasks to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities. By delegating, you are positively reinforcing the skill sets your followers have learned.
Take advantage of the ability to “model the way” prior, to show followers you are a team player as well. Assigning tasks to others displays the attributes of trust, commitment, and loyalty. Be sure to praise this person whenever possible. People like to be recognized for going out of their comfort zone and still achieving success.
Displaying a positive attitude shows you have conviction as a leader. According to an article on the Work to Live website:
Research shows that optimism can prevent depression, increase social connection, boost performance on the job, increase success, and make you more resilient in the face of setbacks (Robinson, 2015)
By being a strong positive presence, people will gravitate to you and your leadership style over those who adopt a dictatorial one. Although both styles can be effective (look at Hitler’s rise to power leading up to, and during, WWII), both are not always ethical. People in today’s culture are looking to maintain a good work-life balance, and feel that can be achieved with a positive leader at the helm. Optimism from leadership trickles down through an organizational hierocracy and can be attributed to higher profitability, customer satisfaction, and engaged employees.
As upcoming leaders, it is important to tailor leadership skills to situational experiences and to the group being led. These five attributes are metrics for leaders to live by. Because what matters gets measured, it is important as a leader to establish your own personal metrics, values, and mission and live by it in order to maintain leadership consistency.
Just to recap:
- Do not accept “no” as an answer. Be persistent and know your core values.
- Surround yourself with those who will further your cause. Leverage your relationships.
- Be mindful of your approach to communicating with others.
- Be confident in delegating tasks to those who are capable.
- Remain positive.
- Etienne. (n.d.). 10 leadership lessons from inspiring leaders in history. Retrieved from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/10-leadership-lessons-from-inspiring-leaders-history.html
- HelpGuide.org. (n.d). Effective communication: Improving communication skills in your work and personal relationships. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/relationships/effective-communication.htm
- Maxwell, J. C. (1993). Developing the leader within you. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
- Robinson, J. (2015). Working smarter: How optimism boosts productivity and work-life balance. Retrieved from http://www.worktolive.info/blog/bid/336460/How-Optimism-Boosts-Productivity-and-Work-Life-Balance