4 Key Traits For Being A Better Leader
In the span of 50 short years, the United Arab Emirates has become one of the most sought-after destinations in the world for both tourism and residential life alike一and one of the key reasons attributed towards this prosperity and success is the strong leadership. And as one of the country’s most visionary leaders, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ー the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the country, its Minister of Defence, and the Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai ー once put it, “A leader should always maintain positive energy, for it is the source of optimism that overcomes obstacles”.
Would France have won the World Cup in 1998 ー one of its most famous victories in football or indeed, sporting history ー without the leadership of its team captain Zinedine Zidane? Would economies thrive without leadership? Would governments and companies function without their leaders?
When we think of how epic leaders are portrayed in film and throughout history, we often picture the brave warrior standing on a mountaintop in front of his or her people as they lead them to victory in battle. But in modern times, leadership usually looks a little different.
The concept of leadership does not only apply to corporations or governments. It begins in the smallest economic entity we know: the family. The role of parents is to support their children, prepare them for the future, guide them through important milestones, and to give them the freedom and the space to develop and thrive. Leaders also exist in our day-to-day life: in the workplace, in our sports teams, through our mentors and volunteers, and even in our social circles.
Leadership Is About More Than Power
Being a great leader requires much more than just having knowledge and power: there are certain traits that a good leader must possess, from confidence and good communication skills to empathy, humility, and emotional intelligence. This simple formula can be applied to any leadership role.
Much like a parent, a true leader is a guide; a mentor who is capable of seeing and harnessing everyone's potential for the best possible outcome. In the workplace for example, a boss who uses their position to instill fear in their employees will be left with a team that is insecure, performs poorly, and with low morale. A manager who rules with an iron fist makes it difficult for employees to grow and excel for fear of repercussions. A toxic environment may even cause the team to fall apart in the long term, and for emotionally depleted employees to resign.
To become a well-respected and trusted leader, there are some necessary soft skills that must be developed and honed.
Accept Your Mistakes
Without risk, there is no reward. Making mistakes by trying out new approaches, taking risks, and challenging ourselves is part of what helps us grow as human beings. As a leader, it's key to make people comfortable with challenging the status quo and thinking outside the box. But only those who know they won’t be blamed and shamed for possible mistakes will be willing to take risks and explore uncharted territory. A good leader encourages those around them to take these risks. While it's important to hold everyone accountable for their actions (and be clear about consequences), a skilled leader will show empathy when an error is made, and will use it as a teaching moment to foster growth. A confident leader will also be able to accept and own up to their own mistakes or shortcomings with grace. By the same token, they will also celebrate success, giving or sharing credit where it's due.
Encourage Leadership Development
You’re only as good as your team. Leadership isn't only about managing a team and resources, it's also about empowering individuals to become leaders themselves. Nurture the people around you by affording them opportunities to grow, without fearing that they could one day surpass or replace you. While leadership does come from the top, it also needs to be distributed downstream. Give responsibility, encourage independence, and celebrate success to create a positive environment for all those involved. A true leader understands that the collective is much more than the sum of its individuals.
Learn To Delegate
As the expression goes, "If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." Someone with good leadership skills won't be afraid to delegate responsibilities and tasks so they can focus on other priorities. Delegating empowers people to take charge and make their own decisions, enabling them to grow as leaders themselves. Not only does this feel rewarding, it also improves self-esteem and confidence within a team, making each person involved feel like a valued member, and motivating them to keep contributing actively for the good of all.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Think of the times when you could have avoided misunderstandings and negative emotions just by being a better communicator. Set clear goals and expectations so that everyone understands their role and objectives. A forward-thinking leader doesn't see him or herself as the only decision-maker. Instead, they encourage discussion and will bounce ideas around the room before making a decision. An important part of communicating well is also listening well. Making yourself available ー and approachable ー to discuss any issues or concerns, answer questions, or accept feedback, will make those around you feel seen and heard, and help you gain their trust and respect.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership And Growth Since World War II*; The Impact Of An Authentic Sports Leadership Program For Coach; A Comprehensive Study Of Leadership Styles And Various Factors Contributing To The Success Of Athletic Teams; Leaders Produce Leaders And Managers Produce Followers; Effective Developmental Leadership: A Study Of The Traits And Behaviors Of A Leader Who Develops Both People And The Organization; New Study Delves Into What Makes A Great Leader.
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