Few topics in the business world have had more written about than Leadership. Everyone seems to have an idea of what leadership is and what it is not.
There are many facets to it. But I’ve found that to be a good leader, you need to have certain leadership personality traits to even be considered. Here are some of the key ones that I’ve seen in the most successful people.
Attention to detail (but not too much)
Most managers move up the ranks, managing positions that they fulfilled in the past. The lower level positions likely involved a lot of detail. As you move up, the need for detail becomes smaller. You need to focus more on strategic aspects rather than tactical work.
Some people in leadership positions are happy to put the detail behind them and focus only on the big picture. It becomes problematic when they don’t know enough about the details to make proper decisions and give people direction.
Other folks can’t let go of the detail. They have a need to get in up to their elbows in all of the details. Continuing to do the work at the same level of detail they did before will suck up all of their time. They won’t have time to effectively lead.
A good leader is curious and asks the right questions regarding detail. This helps the leader to know what is going on for effective decision making.
People prefer to follow positive people. They enjoy being in their presence and are more eager to do good work for them.
Positivity can also be contagious, especially if you hire people with the right leadership personality traits. They will have a positive attitude and relate better to whatever they say.
A positive attitude breeds charisma for the leader. Creating a positive environment focused on success pulls more people in with the desire to contribute.
Intimidation and fear are poor leadership traits. People perform their work with enthusiasm when they want to do it. If the manager is threatening, overbearing, and yells at employees on a regular basis, they will do what they need to do to avoid conflict. They will rarely go over and above the call.
Leaders on occasion need to have difficult conversations to improve performance. The fear mongering shape-up-or-ship-out lecture may improve performance for a while. It won’t change it significantly. And it won’t change it long term. Most employees will do the minimum requirement to avoid getting fired with that approach.
A leader can’t simply avoid the confrontation either. Fear of team members not liking them is not good leadership. Bad performance needs to be improved. An effective leader has the personality to confront people to let them know the areas where they need improvement without sugarcoating it. The individual needs to know what to improve and the ramifications if they don’t.
Most employees will appreciate their manager being frank with them.
Some people in leadership positions believe that when it comes to talking, quantity rules. It is often driven by ego. They enjoy the sound of their own voice and assume everyone else does.
A good follower would be just as happy getting directions from their leaders and getting back to work. Effective leaders put their egos aside and communicate what needs to be said; no more and no less.
Once the effective leader gets over the sound of their own voice, they will have a lot more time to listen. Complimenting their curious personality trait, they will be more willing to get information from others instead of assuming they have all of the answers.
Listening provides the leader with two distinct benefits. First, they learn more from others. Listening will give the leader more information that many in leadership positions who don’t listen don’t get.
Secondly, people who are listened to feel more appreciated. They will strive to do a better job for the person who gave them the extra attention of listening to them.
What personality traits have you seen in great leaders?
If you would like to learn more about a career in Project Management, get Lew’s book Project Management 101: 101 Tips for Success in Project Management on Amazon.
Please feel free to provide feedback in the comments section below.
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net