What Makes Them Great?
Written By: BRITANNI Esplin
I have always loved learning about and studying leadership. While in college I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study leadership development along with my degree in Public Relations. One thing I learned through that process was that leadership qualities are important and applicable to everyone whether or not you are in a leadership position. Most often great followers have strong leadership skills. Tim Elmore, president of the nonprofit organization ‘Growing Leaders’ once said, “More and more researchers agree that leadership is a 360-degree proposition. We influence all around us. In fact, most of the people who influence their team, their corporation, their non-profit organization—in fact, their nation—are not the Chief Executives of those organizations. We lead up, we lead around, and we lead down in organizations.” There is value in working on improving your leadership qualities regardless of where you are in your life. Everyone has influence, and leadership skills can help give that influence direction.
Research has found the following three leadership qualities to be critical in positively influencing others. Having a foundation of these qualities and skills ensures that when a situation arises that requires particular leadership skills, and knowledge, you’ll be ready to step in, lead, and make the path better for everyone. There is always more that can be done to improve in these areas as we strive to be better leaders. Each of these skills highlight the fundamentals of navigating difficult situations as an effective leader.
Passionate leaders are willing to make changes and take action with a vision to make things better. Steve Job, founder and chairman of Apple Inc. once said, “You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” Every organization needs people that make things happen. Good leaders have a passion for the work they do and feel that it is important. Passion is extremely contagious. As an effective leader shares authentic enthusiasm, the people around them will be more productive and glen more satisfaction from their work. One way to implement passion in your work is by sharing praise. Praising those you work with can be a natural extension of passion.
There are many skills that lead to becoming a great leader and empathy is one of the most important. If you can gain the trust of the people around you and can empathize with their challenges, you will be better equipped to help them become the best versions of themselves. There is the old saying, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Empathy is developed as you picture yourself in someone else’s situation and do your best to relate to their struggle. The best way to do this is by fully listening to those you work with. Learn about them and what truly motivates them. The more empathy that is expressed on a team the more goals can be accomplished. Empathy invites vulnerability which in turn invites free thinking and innovative ideas. What happens when empathy is left out of leadership? Instead of being built up, those around you end up being discouraged and often misunderstood.
3. Good Communication“ A boss has the title.
A leader has the people.
- Simon Sinek
Good communication skills are important for everyone and critical in leadership. Effective communication skills do not typically come naturally to people. It is a skill that needs to be continually worked on and even practiced. In leadership roles, it is important that the vision and goals are effectively explained. Imagine working under a leader that can’t covey the goals of the team. It is incredibly frustrating to be trying to move forward without a clear direction. In a leadership position, you are often required to communicate both good and bad news. It can be tricky to give negative feedback without negatively affecting productivity. In communication theory, it is explained that those being spoken to often match or emulate the tone, and style used in their conversations. Commonly, an employee will match the body language and emotion that their boss uses to speak with them. If employees see their leader using an active listening style and empathetic tone with customers, they are likely to follow suit. When speaking, leaders should consider whether they would want their employees to speak in the same way to other audiences. If not, the leader should consider adjusting their communication style. This is a skill that can be learned with practice and applied in almost every situation.
I recently came across the quote from Simon Sinek, author, motivational speaker and organizational consultant that states, “A boss has the title. A leader has the people.” When leading, it is less about the title you hold and more about the influence you have. Everyone directly influences the people around them on a regular basis. These people could be family members, co-workers, friends or maybe people they supervise. Passion, empathy, and good communication are three tools that can help improve your ability to be a positive influence of the people around you regardless of the position you hold.