The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”– President Ronald Reagan. The former POTUS’ words sum up the difference between a boss and a leader. Someone who is capable of inspiring and motivating others is one who is not ego-driven, authoritarian, or exclusively focused on the bottom line. Great leaders know that they have the ability to change the lives of their employees, drive innovation, and prevent the burnout and stress that affect around 43 percent of people in over 100 countries (as per the Global Workplace Report). What qualities are necessary to be a leader of people, and how can you reach your objectives while also promoting a healthy, happy culture in your workplace?
Telling the Truth
Great leaders know how to speak the truth clearly and assertively. They don’t try to mask tough situations from staff. They face and manage conflicts openly and with a solutions-based approach, creating a reputation for being straightforward and direct. They share information with staff, including good results and potential shakeups such as new competitors, impending layoffs, and lower sales. They encourage and give honest feedback and know how to ask their employees to improve in specific areas, without making them feel belittled or micromanaged.
Encouraging Lifelong Learning
Research indicates that around 94 percent of employees would remain in a company longer if it invested in their career development. Leaders recognize the human interest in continuous growth and education. They invest in training and ensure their employees are updated when it comes to industry trends and technology. Doing so not only benefits employees, but also their organizations, as new skills and abilities enable employees to innovate, create new product lines and/or offer services that set new standards in their sector.
Forbes has identified flexibility as the single most important leadership skill.. A recent study of 2,202 employees by Flexjobs found that 41 percent of employees surveyed cited the lack of flexible schedules as the reason they quit their jobs. A study by Skynova, meanwhile, showed that nearly half of employees said having a flexible schedule was more essential than their salary. Gone are the days of sacrificing full days to impress the boss. Employees (particularly from the millennial and GenZ generations) expect bosses to be realistic and to understand the benefits of offering them a good work-life balance. Flexibility doesn’t always mean allowing employees to work from home. The Skynova study revealed that almost four out of every five telecommuters who do not have flexible schedules were considering leaving their jobs.
Building a Solid Foundation
Great leaders take steps that employees should take for granted as part and parcel of a legally compliant, modern-day workforce. As such, if they are launching a new company, they should envision where they want their company to be one, five, and ten years into the future. They should choose the appropriate legal structure and open in a state that is beneficial for the structure they choose, to enable the company to achieve optimal success and hire as many staff members as it needs. For instance, a Texas LLC has known advantages, including tax benefits, asset protection for its members, and considerable flexibility. This state (unlike most states) allows you to create series LLCs, all for the cost of creating one. Only 19 other states allow you to do the same, so if you are considering opening various LLCs under your main one, then selecting a state like Texas, Alabama, or Tennessee is ideal.
Communication Is Key
True leaders value clear, unequivocal communication with staff. They make themselves accessible, make it a point to know how individual employees are doing, and are open to procedural changes that can make goal achievement quicker or more effective. Good communication involves being an active listener; one that is authentically interested in what employees have to say. Great leaders harness the power of positive language. They stand with their arms at their sides (and avoid crossing them), look others directly in the eye, and nod to show agreement or interest. They exude warmth, smile often, and lean towards others slightly to demonstrate interest when others are speaking.
Positive Conflict Resolution Skills
Leaders do not ghost employees seeking to give negative feedback. Nor do they treat them aggressively to “quiet them down.” They see conflicts as an opportunity for growth and the building of a positive work culture. Therefore, they not only embrace direct communication, but also encourage employees to resolve conflicts fruitfully. They make clear that bickering, gossiping, and other futile strategies are unproductive and potentially harmful to staff and to the organization as a whole. When a conflict arises, leaders look to the solution. They use “I” rather than “You” language, emphasize the importance of identifying the problem, and aim to find a solution that suits all parties involved. As stated by General Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
Being a great leader involves acquiring a host of soft skills. Some of the most important traits leaders should possess include openness, directness, and honesty. Leaders also need to be great communicators to inspire others to pursue their vision and work as a unified team. Effective leadership is crucial for organizational success, as it has a direct impact on employee engagement, productivity, and overall job satisfaction (Bass et al., 2003). This study examines the key strategies employed by successful leaders and provides insights into how individuals can adopt these approaches to enhance their leadership skills. Furthermore, the paper presents empirical evidence supporting these strategies, highlighting the significance of adaptability, communication, and emotional intelligence in effective leadership.
Adaptability and Flexibility:
Successful leaders demonstrate adaptability and flexibility, adjusting their leadership styles according to the needs of their team and the organization (Hogan et al., 2018). These leaders recognize the importance of being responsive to change, adapting to evolving circumstances, and embracing new challenges to remain effective and relevant (Yukl, 2012).
Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful leadership, as it promotes transparency, trust, and cooperation within the team (Men, 2014). Leaders who excel in communication are better equipped to convey their vision, motivate their team, and foster a positive work environment (De Vries et al., 2010).
Leaders with high emotional intelligence (EQ) can better understand and manage their emotions, as well as the emotions of others (Goleman, 1998). Emotionally intelligent leaders are more likely to create a supportive and empathetic work environment, leading to increased employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention (Momeni, 2009).
Vision and Strategic Thinking:
Successful leaders possess a clear vision and the ability to think strategically, setting long-term goals and guiding their team towards achieving them (Kotter, 1990). These leaders are skilled at anticipating future challenges and opportunities, making informed decisions, and inspiring their team to strive for excellence (Bass & Riggio, 2006).
Empowerment and Delegation:
Effective leaders empower their team members by delegating tasks, providing autonomy, and encouraging personal growth (Arnold et al., 2000). By fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility, leaders can enhance employee engagement, performance, and job satisfaction (Ahearne et al., 2005).
The strategies employed by successful leaders, such as adaptability, communication, emotional intelligence, vision, and empowerment, can significantly impact organizational success and employee satisfaction. By adopting these approaches, individuals can enhance their leadership skills and contribute to the growth and success of their team and organization.
Ahearne, M., Mathieu, J., & Rapp, A. (2005). To empower or not to empower your sales force? An empirical examination of the influence of leadership empowerment behavior on customer satisfaction and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(5), 945-955.
Arnold, J. A., Arad, S., Rhoades, J. A., & Drasgow, F. (2000). The empowering leadership questionnaire: The construction and validation of a new scale for measuring leader behaviors. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21(3), 249-269.
Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.). Psychology Press.