Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder, building a network marketing downline, working for social change, or even coaching a Little League team or organizing a civic event, knowing leadership traits of effective leaders will make you more successful in any role.
Becoming a leader gives you the opportunity to magnify your impact in the world. It allows you to leverage the hearts and actions of others toward the achievement of goals and objectives that you care about. It allows you to produce bigger results faster than you could ever do on your own. And while we’re not all destined to become leaders on a level with John F. Kennedy, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs or Mother Teresa, we can all learn to develop our leadership skills for positive impact in our organizations and our local communities.
Along the way, we can even transform the people we lead.
We can help them grow, expand and improve.
We can help them cope better, think bigger, and become more confident.
Growing people is what transformational leaders do every day. And there are really five key qualities that I think elevate someone to the significance of a great leader.
Great Leaders are Open to Feedback
The first is that a great leader is open to feedback. They aren’t afraid of hearing the truth. In fact, they pro-actively seek out feedback from their team, their peers, the marketplace, and their customers – in whatever form those individuals might be. They don’t argue with the feedback or get angry. They just take it in as information.
Leaders Create a Safe Space
Next, a great leader creates a safe space for people to voice their ideas, concerns, and solutions. Nothing should be off the table.
They Listen Without Prejudice
In fact, listening without prejudice is probably the greatest skill of a leader. It’s how new ideas get heard and gain traction. It’s how new products are invented, new methods are developed, and innovative solutions become mainstream solutions.
Leaders Use Sensible Responses to Different Situations
What’s number four? True leaders understand that they have the opportunity and ability to respond differently to every situation. When events arise – good or bad – leaders see these events as neutral. But they see their response to that event as crucial.
Good leaders know that the way they respond can save a situation or make it worse. They can turn a negative event into an opportunity for positive change. They can turn mistakes into teachable moments for their team. And they can use sensible responses as examples that transform their team members into smarter, more innovative and more collaborative participants in reaching the goal.
They Transform Other Team Members into Leaders
Which brings to my fifth quality of great leaders: they transform individual team members into people with leadership qualities who can take on greater responsibilty and begin leading key aspects of a project, business or initiative.
Mary Parker-Follett, who was a pioneer in organizational theory and behavior, once said that, “The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.”
The world is getting ever more complicated. As a leader, you’ll face increasing levels of uncertainty and complexity—that’s just how the world works. You can’t possibly know or control everything. So one way to overcome this is to coach your people to take a leadership role in their part of the project.
Growing people is something we in the transformational and human potential field have been doing for decades.
Over the past few years, I’ve worked with a number of emerging leaders to hone their skills and give them the tools and training they need to transform team members into smart, motivated, responsible and forward-thinking people who are focused and driven to achieve goals in their organization.
Learn How to Train Others Great Leadership Traits
For 40 years, I’ve been refining something we call The Canfield Methodology – a combination of personal transformation exercises and success skills that we’ve brought to literally millions of people in 108 countries. I’m now helping to develop the next generation of conscious leaders who are skilled not just at meeting organizational goals, but also at growing the next wave of leaders and innovators for their organization.