10 qualities that maketh a leader

Saloni Vijay, General Manager - IT, Vodafone Mobile Services Ltd, NEXT100 Winner 2016, describes a range of qualities in leaders that make them different from others

10 qualities that maketh a leader

Leaders who do not show appreciation for their employees are putting their business at risk for higher turnover, lower output, and malaise

Leadership has a different meaning to each individual. Few say “Leadership is an art to encourage and motivate people to achieve a common agenda” while others say “Leadership is a winning combination of personal traits and the ability to think and act as a leader”. This leads to another question that “Are leaders born or made?” while answers have different opinion but few leaders are born and few are developed based on their qualities. I believe that there are few qualities in leaders that make them different from others.

1. Trustworthy

Transparency builds trust; if you are connected to your team and genuinely interested in their participation and welfare, they will join you in your quest. People own what they help to create. Leaders inspire others to look up to them by telling the truth, being in integrity with what they promise and living honestly and earnestly. When employees take pride in their leadership and their organization, inspiration follows close behind.

2. Appreciative

Appreciation is the key to boost up the morale of a person and injected the motivation to give their 100% to perform the job. Appreciate your people for their achievements – be it small or big. Leaders who do not show appreciation for their employees are putting their business at risk for higher turnover, lower output, and malaise. Even small gestures of gratitude show people that they matter. Even a quick “Thank you, this project couldn’t have happened without you” is enough to inspire and bolster your team.

3. Visionary

Having the vision to break out of the norm and aim for great things then the ability to set the steps necessary to get there is an essential characteristic of good leadership. Through words, actions and beliefs and by seeing what can be and managing the goals on how to get there, a good leader can create impressive change. To truly inspire, know precisely what you are you striving to achieve.

4. Passionate

Genuine passion for your people and purpose is a great motivator that builds momentum. An engaged and empowered team led with clear vision and purpose by a passionate leader is a force to be reckoned with. Your passion is the virus that should spread across your team which can be inspiration for them.

5. Empathy

Creating a legitimate rapport with your staff makes it less likely that personal issues and resentment can creep in and derail the group. When your team knows that you are empathetic to their concerns, they will be more likely to work with you and share in your vision, rather than foster negative feelings. People own what they help to create.

6. Influential

Passion, purpose help make a leader inspirational. Exhibiting these qualities and characteristics is a must if you wish to inspire the best work from your employees. An inspirational leader does not just tell employees that he or she is deeply committed to their customer’s experience.

7. Communication

Leaders know that taking the right amount of time with each communication ensures that everyone is on board and moving forward. Effective communication helps keep the team working on the right projects with the right attitude. If you communicate effectively about expectations, issues and advice, your staff will be more likely to react and meet your goals.

8. Innovative

To create value of your product or your people, leader has to be innovative. To think something which no one thought of and make that idea work, leaders take bold steps. Leaders who both inspire people and generate results find ways to constructively disrupt established behaviors to help employees break out of culture-weakening routines.

9. Positive Attitude

Leaders can find the bright side of any issue. They know that doom and gloom accomplishes nothing, so they remain beacons of positivity in the face of challenges and failures. Of course, problems happen and troubleshooting is inevitable but few positive words can create wonders in the ocean of challenges and negativity. Positivity attracts positivity so be positive and spread positivity around you.

10. Listening

Leaders truly listen to what is said to them and respond appropriately, instead of letting it go in one ear and out the other. Practice an open door policy to receive your team’s feedback and encourage them to contribute to the common goal. This imbues the company with a shared sense of value because everyone participates and everyone is important.

While there have been several debates on the right definition of a leader and a manager, there is one word which differentiates a good leader and manager that is “Do it anyhow” and “Let’s do it anyhow”. One word “Let’s” makes huge difference in the approach of a leader. That reduces the stress from a team member and adds passion to perform a task.

There are multiple type of leadership styles which a leader should adopt based on the situation and characteristics of a person who you are dealing with. The vision inspires and provides a strong sense of purpose and direction.

If you have a large team, difference of opinion would be huge. To achieve the common agenda, team should be aligned with the goal and act in unity. I have started practicing the appreciation for other team member for supporting one in doing their work efficiently. This evolves lot of positive thoughts for each other and team felt motivated and to do better while appreciated by other person.

Another important key is “Reward and recognition” that we have started. There is a saying that if you want to appreciate someone “Do it publicly” and if you want to criticize someone “Do it in close door”. When people gets recognized for their effort then you don’t need to drive the agenda to achieve goals, their inner motivation and passion will drive them.

There are many leaders who are great source of inspiration but the leader which I admire is “Mahatma Gandhi”. Getting freedom for India, a task that seemed almost impossible! The journey was tough and was filled with a lot of disappointments and yet Mahatma Gandhi continued with his struggle to unite the people of our country and fight for our freedom. The persistence and determination shown by the Mahatma kept the freedom struggle going in spite of all odds and finally became a strong force in achieving independence for our country. The ability to bind people towards a common goal, to simplify your vision so that everyone understands it and taking the entire group long towards achieving a goal is what makes anyone achieve big things. Getting along well with people coming from diverse background is what makes a leader extremely popular!

As an African proverb rightly goes, “An army of sheep led by a Lion can defeat an army of lion led by a sheep.” 

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