No two leaders are exactly alike, but the most successful leaders often have plenty in common. Personal preferences, opinions, and life experiences aside, there are certain leadership qualities that ring true across the board — honesty, responsiveness, passion, integrity, etc. While these traits may be somewhat inherent in certain leaders, the best leaders become successful by honing these skills through hard work and habit formation. Let’s outline some essential habits that allow leaders to acquire and maintain success in their workplace and in life.
What Habits Make a Successful Leader?
Cultivating a Thirst for Knowledge
One of the most important qualities of an effective leader is the willingness and ability to continuously learn. Reading books across genres and fields of expertise, listening to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, asking questions of peers, employees, friends, and strangers — all of these activities allow leaders to expand their horizons. Even if a piece of information might not seem immediately relevant to a leader’s life or career, the culmination of various bits of knowledge can be synthesized over time in new and unique ways. There is no downside, only upside, to receiving an ongoing education, and successful leaders know there’s always more to discover.
Maintaining a Balance of Confidence and Humility
There are always areas of growth for leaders, and the only way to identify and improve those areas is to put your ego aside and then pick it back up to act on those necessary changes. Leadership comes with power and privileges, and this prestige can cloud the mind of individuals who lack humility. Conversely, leaders who lack confidence can struggle to get things done, create buy-in, and keep their people on track. As such, the most successful leaders strike a balance between confidence and humility, listening closely to their peers and team members while not backing down from bold ideas. Practicing gratitude each and every day is another great way for leaders to stay humble and positive.
Focusing on Physical as well as Mental Health
The aforementioned power and privilege inherent in leadership also comes with its fair share of stress, which manifests both in the mind and body. Leaders who fail to take care of their mental and physical health can burn out, lash out, and/or simply become less effective overall. Leadership success largely depends on maintaining a healthy lifestyle both in and out of work. The best leaders focus on managing leadership stress by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, taking breaks, practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditation, yoga), and more. Taking the time for self-care allows leaders to operate with a clear mind and high-functioning body — crucial for getting things done and getting them done right.
Effective leaders are also well-organized where it counts. While a messy desk might be a proverbial sign of genius, it’s not exactly ideal for strategic planning, scheduling, goal-tracking, and so on. Keeping documents and items in their proper places, taking regular notes, journaling, and maintaining a detailed calendar helps keep things straight so leaders can spend less time and energy shuffling papers around and more on other matters like idea generation, performance management, employee check-ins, executive meetings, etc.
Consistently Pushing Themselves and Others
Organizations can only grow if leaders and their teams are constantly coming up with new ideas and taking calculated risks. Indeed, this willingness to push the envelope is one of the key qualities of a good leader, and honing it depends on leaders pushing themselves out of their comfort zones in every area of their lives, not just at work. Successful leaders are always challenging themselves, whether it’s running an extra quarter-mile than initially planned, trying new cuisine, attending an unlikely event or concert, and so on. Living life “on the edge” in this way conditions leaders to be bolder in the workplace and mitigate the fear of the unknown so their organization and people can grow in unexpected ways.
Successful leaders are creatures of habit — not just any habits, but habits that help them gain new knowledge, become more self-aware, improve their mental and physical well-being, stay organized, and try new things. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Strong leadership and strong communication are inextricably linked — you simply cannot have one without the other. The best leaders maintain a clear line of communication with their peers, partners, employees, and customers. In doing so, these leaders develop a deeper understanding of relevant situations, issues, shortcomings, and opportunities while delivering clear feedback and instruction that steers the ship in a purposeful direction. Let’s dive deeper into why communication is so crucial in leadership.
What Are the Benefits of Good Communication?
Communication Keeps People on the Same Page
Team management is a challenge for businesses of all sizes. Whether a team consists of a few people or dozens of individuals, leaders with strong communication skills are the glue that holds said team together through thick and thin. It’s worth noting that proper communication isn’t a one-way street, either. Leaders must be equally adept at delivering instructions and receiving feedback from team members in order to manage their team optimally. This reciprocity allows leaders to earn the respect and engagement of their employees and make informed decisions that garner maximum buy-in.
Communication Is Key to Understanding Problems
The ability to listen is one of the most important qualities of a good leader, and, as previously mentioned, half of the communication equation. If you fail to hear or comprehend the concerns of those within your organization, the smallest issues can grow into a rot that’s more and more difficult to expel over time. The best leaders actively check in with their people to uncover any nascent problems so they can resolve them as quickly and effectively as possible. New issues are still bound to arise — the key is getting ahead of them with masterful communication rather than ignoring them or missing them entirely.
Communication Drives Positive Change
The whole point of understanding problems in your organization is to discover weak points that you can fix and then make various adjustments that push your company in a better direction. In this way, then, strong leadership communication skills are the driving force behind constructive change. Your organization will struggle to grow or improve if its leaders don’t properly respond to problems and opportunities when they arise.
Communication Helps Retain Top Talent
In recent posts, we’ve discussed the importance of employee retention, especially when it comes to keeping top talent in your organization. While these retention efforts are multi-faceted, leadership communication remains at the heart of them. Those with the most potential in your company may seek other opportunities if they don’t feel like their ideas are being heard and/or if they don’t feel properly compensated for their contributions. In order to keep these valuable people around, leaders must help them grow with the organization — this might mean promoting them into new positions, guiding their own leadership development, giving them appropriate raises, and so on. Whatever the case, these decisions must be based on the mutual needs of these individuals and your company, which can only be uncovered through powerful communication.
Leaders who display strong communication keep their people on the same page, understand and resolve issues before they fester, improve their operations and culture, and retain the very best people to keep this cycle going. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Quality of leadership largely determines whether an organization rises, falls, or remains stagnant. But leaders do not magically descend from some higher realm — they are cultivated over time through experience, training, and perseverance. Indeed, nearly every company contains its share of potential leaders, and it is the responsibility of current leaders to identify and foster future leadership or else risk leaving a major hole in the organization upon leaving.
Of course, not every worker is destined to be (or interested in being) a leader. Investing in these individuals is not a waste of time, but the lion’s share of leadership development resources are better spent on those who display leadership potential. With that in mind, let’s go over how to spot future leaders at your organization.
How to Find a Future Leader
Ask Yourself: Who Goes the Extra Mile?
When seeking the future leaders of your company, a good place to start is by looking at results. Consider who in your organization consistently goes above and beyond expectations. Employees that are highly results-driven prove their enthusiasm and skill, and team members that come up with new, innovative ideas drive the company’s efforts into new territories. Pay close attention to these people in your company who keep the enterprise moving forward with passion, as they already exhibit strong leadership qualities.
Weigh Both Potential and Performance
Performance is undoubtedly a key indicator when spotting future leaders, but it is not the end-all-be-all. Indeed, you may have employees who work extremely hard but don’t exude much leadership potential. “Leadership potential” is a somewhat ambiguous metric, of course, and therefore more difficult to pick apart than hard data. Still, pay attention to those with specific leadership skills, such as strong communication, team-building aptitude, a desire to grow and learn, creativity, etc. Even if they’re not your top performers in terms of your bottom line, they might be perfect fits for various leadership roles in the future, helping those top performers reach new heights.
Shake Up the Structure
One helpful way to get a beat on future leaders is by stirring the pot a bit — namely, rotating job duties and/or assigning new roles to people every now and again. In doing so, some individuals will take full advantage of the opportunity, learning new skills and pushing themselves beyond their perceived limits. Others may wish to stay in their comfort zone and/or buckle under the pressure. Those in the former category just might be your future leaders. Job rotation is a powerful exercise for succession planning, as it can help you determine which candidates could adapt and take on new roles when necessary.
Ask Yourself: Who Is Asking Questions?
While not everyone who asks questions is bound to be a leader, all future leaders ask questions. This spirit of inquiry is directly related to strong communication and therefore strong leadership. So, keep an eye on those who take the time to clarify concepts, inquire about specifics, seek solutions to ongoing problems, and ask seemingly simple questions that others might be too timid to ask.
Train Your Eye for Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence, or “EQ,” is one of the most important qualities of a good leader. Those who can listen to the concerns and suggestions of others and act accordingly strengthen the company’s culture, encourage employee buy-in, promote teamwork, and improve the organization’s reputation and operations as a whole. When looking for EQ in future leaders, look for individuals who display empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and strong social skills.
Ask Yourself: Who Is Invested in the Organization?
Lastly, even if you’ve found a handful of candidates who meet the above criteria, you have to consider whether or not they’re in it for the long-haul. Those who show strong leadership potential are in high-demand, after all, and many businesses spend significant resources training future managers only to have them exit the organization shortly after. While you can’t force any of your leaders to stay, though, investing in their growth is a crucial way to retain your top talent. And those who routinely express their interest in the company’s future and their role in it are top contenders for future leaders. In short, if a potential leader is invested in your organization, you must invest in their development.
Developing future leaders in your company starts with identifying the best candidates. And once you know what to look for, you may be pleasantly surprised at how many people in your organization could become leaders down the line.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
SCHEDULE A CALL TO LEARN MORE
Let us help you achieve your vision. A member of our team will respond within 24 business hours to arrange an initial discovery session with one of our growth consultants.