While there’s no definitive list of what it takes to be a great leader, there are certain characteristics and skills that come to mind when I think about all the leaders that have impacted my life and leadership over the years.
As you work on growing your own leadership skills, take an inventory of each of these areas to see what you’re doing well and where you can keep improving!
1. They cast vision (regularly)!
While I believe casting vision is one of the most important things you can do as a leader, the key word here is REGULARLY!
It’s not something you do once and the job is done. It’s your ongoing responsibility as a leader!
Without vision, people don’t know what they’re working for. Or maybe they do know deep down, but when things get tough, it’s easier for them to forget and get caught up in the challenges.
Most people show up to their job each day because they need to make money somehow. But the person who feels like they’re making an impact at work and their purpose is bigger than a paycheck is much more likely to stay in that job long-term.
Vision drives people forward. It gives them purpose. And it gives them a reason to keep showing up and making progress even when it’s hard.
And while your teammates or employees will have their own personal visions, it’s important to have a vision of where you’re going together.
So, ask yourself – what is my vision for my team?
Whatever it is… you have to talk about it A LOT. You have to paint pictures of what it would look like, tell stories of what it would feel like, and relate it back to how it’s going to serve them or something they care about.
Being the #1 income-earning team might sound exciting… but until you tie it to something emotional that your team can get behind, it won’t compel them to take action.
You have to ask yourself… why would THEY care about this? Would it mean they get to spend more time with their family? Would it mean they get to give back to causes they care about?
Whatever it is, get clear on it. Journal on it. Pray on it. Talk about it.
Then get to work casting that vision to your team until it becomes their vision too!
I promise you… it will change everything!
2. They’re solution-minded.
One of the tell-tale signs that someone has leadership skills is their ability to focus on solutions when a problem arises.
Instead of panicking about what’s going to happen next, or complaining about how it’s going to impact them… they immediately shift their focus to the positives and possible solutions.
When you have the right mindset, every problem is an opportunity in disguise.
It’s an opportunity to create something better! A better system, product, service, etc.
Don’t get me wrong… I realize it’s harder to see it that way when you’re in the midst of a big problem and the solution or opportunity isn’t immediately obvious.
But that’s also why it’s so important to have solution-minded leaders in your organization who can keep a level-head and cast vision when others are panicking.
Several years ago, our company had a nation-wide shortage of our flagship, top-selling product for WEEKS!
In other words, our distributors were missing out on sales of our best-selling product that could directly impact their paycheck.
There were plenty of people who panicked. Some who quit. Some who jump-shipped.
But we also had a lot of leaders who stayed and changed the conversation.
Instead of worrying about all the possible outcomes, they spoke life into the situation and turned it into a selling point.
It wasn’t that our product was out of stock… It was that our product was so popular and so exciting that we couldn’t keep enough in stock! The demand was huge and everyone wanted what we had.
See the difference?!
There’s no way for an organization to avoid problems all-together… but they’re a whole lot easier to navigate when you have solution-minded leaders to help you through them!
3. They know the power of recognition & use it!
As the leader of your team, your people want your guidance and support… but they also look to you for recognition!
Because, really… doesn’t everyone like to hear praise from the people they look up to and respect?!
- Athletes love to hear when they’re playing a great game from their coach.
- An employee wants to know when their boss is happy with their work.
- Kids want to hear encouragement from their parents and teachers.
- Even puppies need praise when they’re learning new things!
I truly believe that recognition is one of the most powerful tools we have as leaders!
What gets recognized gets repeated.
In other words… we can create more of the results we want by recognizing and rewarding the right behavior.
Have a teammate who keeps stepping up to add value and share ideas with the rest of the team?!
Encourage them to KEEP doing that by shouting them out!
Whether it’s a posting a public shoutout in your team page, sending a personal message or text, sending a handwritten card, giving them a small gift, or empowering them with a platform to keep sharing what they’re doing… there are so many free and inexpensive ways to recognize your people!
And when your people feel seen and recognized… you will see the results! They will be more loyal, more trusting, and more engaged in the right behavior.
Remember… people will work hard for a paycheck, but they will DIE for recognition!
Of course there’s a whole lot more to leadership than these few things, but I truly believe every organization needs leaders with these skills & qualities to thrive.
So, I’m curious… where would you rate yourself in these areas? And what characteristics or skills are important to you when it comes to leadership? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!