It’s common to think some are born with some innate, raw talent that makes them natural leaders. But the reality is, most aren’t. Most learn to become leaders through reflection, practice, and effort–and that’s as true for politicians as for managers. Some might be quicker to pick up those skills, but with enough time and effort, anyone can do it.
If you’re looking to develop the traits of a top-tier manager, here are the 5 most important to focus on.
1. ConfidenceThough confidence comes more easily to some than others, confidence can grow by learning and understanding your industry. Most managers slowly build their way to a leadership position by starting from the bottom and working their way up.
While confidence is largely about knowledge and delegation, it’s also about instilling confidence in others, allowing employees to take the initiative and assume responsibility when appropriate.
2. VisionAnother skill in great leadership is having a vision – be it a vision for the company, the department, or the industry more broadly. Leaders should have ideas and shouldn’t be afraid to explore and share their ideas with their teams.
Visions should be clear, concise, realistic, and adaptable.
3. CommunicationIt’s one thing to have a vision, but it’s another thing to communicate this vision to your employees. A good manager should be able to clearly tell those working on their team what is expected of them and what they are working to achieve as a company or department.
Managers should also encourage their employees to communicate with them, be it about work or personal issues that are inhibiting their performance. Prioritizing communication allows managers to develop trusting relationships and encourages teamwork.
4. Decision-MakingIn addition to having a vision and communicating well with employees, managers need to be able to make decisions and handle conflict when it occurs. Employees look to their managers for direction, especially when hiccups happen, and it’s crucial that a leader uses their confidence to make thoughtful decisions no matter the circumstance.
5. IntegrityThough managers are seen as experts in their fields, this doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. A good manager is humble, can benefit from the doubt, and importantly, admit when they are wrong.
Managers should work to instill trust in their employees by giving credit where credit is due, valuing the time and hard work of their team members, and providing constructive feedback regularly.
No five-item list could encompass all the traits of a great leader. Great leadership is complex and will look different depending on the nature of the person, the project, and the people behind it.
While no one is “born” a leader, anyone can become a leader through practice and patience. A great manager will lead by example, stay humble, motivate their employees, and plan effectively for the future.
Great leadership is key to good business and overall success, and the pursuit of leadership should be nurtured within all professional fields.
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