There are many ways to be a leader and being the boss isn’t necessarily one of them. We all know that just because someone is a superior in the workplace (or anywhere else for that matter) doesn’t mean they are actually leaders. Just the same, you don’t have to be in a management role or be the boss to be a leader.
We’ve all had at least one boss who was not even close to being an effective leader. You’ve probably also had colleagues who were not in management roles who were informal leaders to their peers.
So, what is leadership then if not the influence that someone with a title has over their subordinates?
Here’s our favorite definition:
Notice that this definition doesn’t mention authority because a title doesn’t make a leader. It also doesn’t mention personality traits or attributes because leadership is a skill, not a characteristic.
If you’re reading this it’s because you want to be a leader or you already are a leader and want to know what you can do better.
The skills listed below are just some of the skills that good leaders share, but they are essential.
Good leaders are empathetic. They know how to talk to people in a way that shows that they care because they know how to put themselves in other peoples’ shoes. When someone approaches them with a concern they do their best to understand what the person is expressing and why so that they can effectively help. And most importantly, they are genuine.
So often when in conversation, we think more about how we’re going to respond to the other person than making an effort to truly listen. A good leader knows that the people who rely on them have just as much to contribute to a shared goal as they do — sometimes more. They understand the importance of paying attention to words, context, emotion. When you listen to someone to understand rather than to respond, the notice. It’s a great way to build trust and to keep learning.
Good leaders know that in order for them to help others expand their minds and beliefs about what they can accomplish, they must also continue to expand their own minds and beliefs. Good leaders never stop learning because they understand that you don’t know what you don’t know and you can never know enough. They continue to learn so they can grow as individuals and so that they can serve those they lead more effectively. They understand that expanding their knowledge means expanding their world and the world of those around them.
Good leaders are open to hearing what other people have to say because they know that their ideas aren’t always the best ones. They understand the importance of working with others to get the most creative solutions. They know that other people often hold the key to success and they are totally okay with that.
Good leaders know that shining a light on the accomplishments of others serves the greater good, which includes themselves. Giving credit where credit is due shows honesty, humility, and integrity. It also shows that you are a true team player and that you aren’t just interested in your own progress but that you want to bring help others progress as well.
A leader doesn’t just tell others what to do, they pull their weight as part of the team. They show their team that they are in it with them. As a leader, you want the people who have faith in you to know that you’re right there with them, doing your best to help them achieve goals.
Now that you know what some of the skills that good leaders possess, you have a place to start.
Don’t forget to ask for feedback on your journey to great leadership. It also helps to have a mentor; someone to help lift you up and who inspires you to do better. You know, a leader. 😉