5 Things You Need If You Want to Lead

Two thirds of employees leave their jobs because of their relationship with their manager. Meaning they quit their boss, not their job. On the other hand, effective leadership can create a positive workplace culture, more engaged employees, high retention, better results for your organization, and greater success for you.

How’s the turnover in your unit?  If it’s higher than you’d like, you may be the problem. Here are five things you can do today to be a more effective leader and boost your career.

Five Characteristics of an Effective Leader

  1. Being a good coach: An article in the Harvard Business Review gives this insightful perspective on people in the workplace: “the most powerfully motivating condition people experience at work is making progress at something that is personally meaningful.” If you’re able to guide employees through meaningful work, you’ll be a highly effective leader.  Give employees work that they will find meaningful or find a way to give meaning to work that initially wasn’t. For more tips on being an effective coach read this.
  2. Self-Awareness: This covers many areas, but in relation to leadership, self-awareness means that you must know yourself in order to be able to lead others.  Self-awareness gives a leader the ability to understand what they can do well, what they may need to improve, and what drives them. It opens them up to seeing how their actions and behaviors affect others. Many of our clients us the McQuaig Self-Development Survey to help leaders, and future leaders, understand their natural temperament, how to capitalize on their strengths, and be aware of growth opportunities. If your company doesn’t use assessments, try asking your peers and employees about your strengths and weaknesses. Initially, they may be resistant to open up, but once they realize you genuinely want to know, they’ll help you find your blind spots.
  3. Strong communication: Although this trait may seem like a no-brainer, often, high performers are promoted into leadership without all the leadership skills they need to succeed, or the training to develop them. Communication is more than just knowing what to say and how to say it. It’s about knowing when to say something, when not to, and, most importantly, listening to what others are saying and answering them thoughtfully. Effective communication happens when you consider how the other person likes to receive information and when you listen to see how they react to what you say.
  4. Extroversion: Many of our customers have found that employees with McQuaig profiles high in dominance and sociability tend to make their way into leadership positions (more on that here). An article in Business Insider confirms this finding, noting that sociable people can push their team members to work and dominant people tend to sound more knowledgeable. That being said, an introverted leader can be just as effective due to their strong listening skills and tendency to approach situations thoughtfully. This characteristic is tied to self-awareness; know your natural temperament and how to leverage the strengths that come with it. That’s much more effective than trying to become something you’re not.
  5. Strategic thinking: Harvard Business Publishing's recent report, Leading Now: Critical Capabilities for a Complex World points out that thinking strategically is key to a business’ success. Because we’re working in a global, constantly changing business world, the ability to anticipate gives leaders an advantage when faced with obstacles or opportunities that haven’t quite presented themselves yet. Some people are more naturally inclined to think this way, but you can also develop this skill. The first step is developing your knowledge of your organization and the environment it operates in. This can begin with coffee meetings with other leaders in your company or conversations with outside experts to get different perspectives.

There are definitely more characteristics of an effective leader and, depending on the culture of your workplace, some may be more effective than others. If you focus on these five, though, you’ll be well on your way to being the kind of leader that people flock to instead of run from. That kind of leadership gets noticed.

What do you think are the characteristics of an effective leader?  


Posted by Ian Cameron