Why Leadership Is Important? 10 Common Traits of Effective Leaders

by David Kelynack, Chief Executive 2020 Exchange

Research reveals that only 10% of people are natural-born leaders.

Does this mean that the remaining 90% of us are destined to be followers all of our lives? Absolutely not.

Rather, those to whom leading doesn’t come naturally can still learn how to emerge from the shadows, voice their opinions, and encourage action.

Why should we pursue this personal and professional development? Why is leadership important?

Today, we’re taking a deep dive into these questions. Along the way, we’ll also share 10 traits that define successful leadership and how you can begin honing them, even if it doesn’t come easy at first.

Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

Why Is Leadership Important? How Does It Work?

Imagine a ship without a captain or an aeroplane without a pilot. On their own, with no single leader at the helm, both of these entities would fail to reach their destination.

Yet, it isn’t only the person behind the controls that gets them off the ground in the first place. It takes a diligent and dedicated team of leaders working behind the scenes.

The captain doesn’t act alone. He relies on deckhands, first mates, able seamen, ordinary seamen, and other members of the boat crew to navigate the vessel and keep it afloat.

At the same time, the pilot would be rendered helpless without the aid of a co-pilot, navigators, flight engineers, flight attendants and other flight crew.

True leadership prevails when people work together toward a common goal.

Thus, this trait is essential because it enables collaboration, driving forward big ideas and big machines alike.

Regardless of your industry niche or the individual role you play within it, learning how to step into a leadership position is essential. You never know when you’ll be asked to steer an unsteady ship or navigate turbulence for a smooth landing.

10 Leadership Traits to Learn

Wondering how to be a leader? Not sure which traits to focus on as you adopt a spirit of leadership? Let’s take a look at 10 of the most important ones.

1. The Ability to Inspire

A successful leader doesn’t have a great idea and keep it for himself, hidden away under lock and key. Rather, you’ll call upon your influence to inspire others around you to share in the vision.

Along the way, you’ll be able to articulate this vision in a way that incites action and encourages participation. Your vision isn’t only clear and inspirational, but it’s also easy for all to comprehend.

Once participation begins, a leader also knows how to organize efforts into a robust business plan that drives real change. You’ll create teams, form initiatives, and assign critical activities that get the job done. Everyone understands what’s expected of them, and employees are motivated to work together toward the common goal.

2. Knowing How to Delegate

A true leader knows that he cannot act alone and that real progress only happens when everyone works together. This means resisting the urge to shoulder the entire burden on your shoulders. Instead, you’ll look instead for others who are capable and qualified to take on certain duties as required.

When this happens, you’ll free yourself up to work on more mission-critical projects that need your professional expertise. In other words, you might not always work “in” the business, but you’ll work “on” the business as diligently as anyone else.

As you assume this role, you’ll learn how you can best serve your teams. What are they looking for in a leader and how can you meet this need?

Remember: Being a leader doesn’t mean taking a hands-off, high-and-mighty stance. It will require hard work, long hours and dedicated teamwork to reach your collective goals.

3. A Focus on Performance

Strong leaders are always in-the-know about their business operations. At a moment’s notice, they’re ready to share numbers, talk dollars, and elaborate on their future plans.

This is why Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are important.

How well does your organization track, measure, and analyze its progress? As a leader, you’ll prioritize these figures and use them to propel forward. While anyone can reference historical data to see where they’ve been, you’ll leverage advanced data analytics to achieve forward-facing indicators.

In addition, while you gather these insights, you won’t leave anyone in the dark. Every employee will understand how he or she fits into the bigger picture at your enterprise, including the role they play in your corporate finances.

4. Understanding Team Logistics

No one wants to be the person in charge of letting someone go. It’s stressful, confrontational and all-around awkward. However, a leader knows what makes a team strong and what subtracts from it.

If you’re in a managerial position, you’ll likely find yourself tasked with helping to bring talent on board, and vice versa. And, unlike 43% of managers, you’ll resist the urge to hire the wrong person quickly because you need to meet a short-term goal. You’ll refine your approach over time, learning to handle the most sensitive employee matters with ease.

When it comes to your current workforce, you’re well-versed in their motivating factors and how to keep them on-task, engaged and satisfied. As such, you invest in the benefits, rewards and opportunities required to attract, retain and fine-tune the right skill sets.

5. A Dedication to the Customer

A successful pilot isn’t flying a plane to log hours in his flight book. Rather, he’s doing it to deliver his bevy of passengers to their destination.

At the same time, you aren’t leading your team for personal accolades or achievements. You’re doing it to deliver a top-notch experience to your client base, and you know that you can only get there if you work as a team.

To this end, you’re dedicated to capturing and measuring customer satisfaction levels after every interaction, always looking for ways you can improve. You also look for any opportunity to engage your prospects and current customers, encouraging your team members to do the same.

6. A Future-Focused Outlook

How much time do you spend each day catching up on trends and patterns within your industry? Do you know the cutting-edge technology and innovations that will change the way you operate in the next few years?

While they learn from the past and improve upon mistakes, strong leaders don’t spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror. Can you imagine the devastation if your pilot did?

At least once a month, you’ll spend time researching the data that surrounds your industry, examining it on a personal level to understand how it will affect your organization. You’ll encourage others on your team to do the same, so they’re able to communicate these changes with you and the rest of your workforce.

Consider these technology trends that could shape the future of Australia’s digital frontier.

Is your business ready to embrace them? As a leader, you’ll know the answer, and you’ll have a strategic planning model in place that encourages agility and action.

7. Honesty and Integrity

The market might be more competitive than ever before, but deceit and dishonesty never win in the long run. Any leader who wants to motivate and inspire others will approach every decision from a standpoint of integrity.

What is the best move for the company and which option reflects our core values and mission? Sometimes, this answer isn’t always easy to find. This is why many leaders create circles of counsel around them to help them make wise decisions.

Rather than making assumptions or taking too many risks, leaders will approach every major touchpoint as an opportunity to learn what’s right and follow that route. They also expect other team members to take this same approach in their day-to-day decision-making process.

8. A Passion for the Role

The enthusiasm that great historical leaders exhibit is rarely feigned. Rather, it’s the outcome of a true passion that drove them to step into the limelight and take an active role in their interests.

Whether you’re vying for a CEO position or simply looking to excel in your department, the same rings true for you.

Unless you have a true passion for what you’re doing, it will be difficult to assume the responsibility of leadership for very long. If you do manage to maintain it, it’s likely to be fraught with resentment.

Seek out roles and responsibilities that excite you. This makes it easier to approach each task with confidence, vigour and excitement. Along the way, you won’t even have to make a grand speech or undergo an extensive recruitment process to encourage others to do the same. When fervour is contagious, it doesn’t take long to spread.

9. Communication and Listening

When you ask an employee how he or she is doing, do you wait to hear the reply? Especially in business leadership, it’s as important to listen as it is to speak.

This might mean holding formal employee review meetings or simply sitting down to chat about how things are going. Either way, taking the time to talk to your employees and gain their input is an invaluable step.

One study shows that 75% of employees who quit do so because of their manager, rather than the job itself. Specifically, they cite that the reporting techniques were insufficient and they felt disconnected from their managers.

To avoid this outcome, schedule regular check-ins to make sure your employees are satisfied and equipped with the tools and resources they need. This includes prioritizing their emotional and mental health, as well.

10. Healthy Self-Care Practices

Speaking of mental health, how is yours? You can’t be a strong leader if you’re burning the candle at both ends. Even the brightest flame burns out that way.

As passionately as you pursue your professional time, it’s also important to approach your personal life the same way. Take the time to do the activities that bring you joy, peace and clarity.

This means taking care of your health, staying physically fit and striving to achieve work/life balance. Any time that you begin to feel to stress or you sense your staff members heading in that direction, you know how to alleviate the pressure and restore calm.

Develop Your Leadership Skills to Succeed

You have important things to say and important work to do. It’s time you tapped into this potential and became the leader you were meant to be. No matter where in this journey you begin, there’s always room for growth.

Why is leadership important? Because one idea or action can change everything, and it might lie inside of you.

Are you ready to fine-tune your leadership skills, grow in confidence and reach new professional heights? That’s where we come in.

We’re a leadership development team dedicated to helping people around the country become stronger and more effective in their roles. Contact us today to learn more and let’s take this bold new step together.