5 Key Behavioural Traits of Successful Leaders
By Karen Meager and John McLachlan
25 May 2018 - It is easy to assume that there are natural leaders, and those who simply aren't up to the task of managing other people, but this just isn't true. Certainly, there are those who feel comfortable with taking the reins, telling people what they need, and making tough decisions when called for, but this isn't to say that people to whom these skills don't come so easily will never get there. Being a good leader is about confidently adopting behaviours that instill trust in others, handle situations reasonably, and ultimately achieve successful results. Here are the five key traits good leaders should exhibit.
Managers have to learn to use feedback in the correct way, as many tend to fall on one side or other of the spectrum, and neither of these are good leadership techniques. If a person pays too much attention to the feedback of others, and uses it as a basis for their decisions and frequently changing their mind, it gives the impression of a weak leader who can easily be led around by the nose. However, a leader who repels any form of feedback that isn't positive strikes others as stubborn, inconsiderate and difficult to work with. And ultimately, neither of these approaches get good results. It is all about maintaining as objective a mindset as possible, and being open to the input of others, while having confidence in your own ideas.
Again, being a decent leader is about finding a level of moderation that prevents you from toppling one way or the other and into damaging behaviours. It is all about taking calculated risks, in which all associated factors have been thought through, and potential outcomes assessed prior to making the final call. Of course, taking into account the feedback of others is a significant element here, while finding a healthy balance. Leaders who are overconfident with taking risks often do so recklessly, and end up losing more than they gain, while those who are afraid to take any risks never fulfill their potential, and miss out on opportunities.
Forward, Flexible and Focused
The ability to look to the future is not as common as one might think, but it is central to being a good leader. In your role as a manager, it is important that you are driven by long-term goals, and that they keep you moving. It doesn't matter how slight your steps towards these goals are, as long as you keep going. But flexibility is also key: life is full of hurdles, and these are some of the biggest tests a leader will experience in their work, so it is important that you are able to encounter unprecedented obstacles, and be resourceful and confident enough to accommodate them and carry on towards your goal in an adapted way.
Do What You Say and Say What You Do
Authenticity is a key factor that separates strong leaders from weak ones. Oddly enough, we often find that even if we don't like a leader personally, we still feel comfortable working with them, because we know where we stand with them, and the relationship we share is an open and transparent one. The tough thing about authenticity is that there is no way to learn it, and it must come organically, and it simply involves being you. In practical terms, this means applying a 'you' filter to every working day, and allowing your own personality to be integrated into your responsibilities as a manager naturally. Any contrived behaviour will be instantly noticeable to those around you, so as long as you understand what your team need from you, and you do it in a way that is natural to you, you are being an authentic leader.
Life is not like in the movies, and you needn't embody James Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life to be considered a good boss. The reality is that human relationships are complex, and aren't always smooth sailing, but provided these relationships are genuine and honest, you can move forward. Once again, it's not about everybody thinking you're the world's greatest boss, or you thinking they're the world's greatest employee, but about fostering and maintaining relationships that are focused on cooperation towards common goals and mutual respect. You may have personal differences, but as long as you are on the same page about what is required of each of you, and you are determined to achieve the same results, then you can work well together.
As you can see, becoming a strong leader requires you to carry out very little transformation on yourself, but rather the way you put your personality to use in the workplace. Successful leadership is about creating a sense of union in the workplace, keeping people motivated, and most of all, being open and honest at all times.
About the authors
Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training, two of only a handful of NLP Master Trainers in the UK and co-authors to Time Mastery; a number one best-selling book, and Real Leaders for the Real World; an IBA finalist.
At Monkey Puzzle Training, Karen, John and their team specialise in developing leaders and supporting them in their personal and professional growth. They take the latest scientific and academic thinking and make it accessible and usable in peoples' work and everyday life.
Both have successful business backgrounds for over 20 years, are clinically qualified in psychotherapy and hypnotherapy. Karen is an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer and a Principal Practitioner Member of the Association for Business Psychology as well as a UKCP registered Psychotherapist (DipNLPt). John is an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer, a Master Practitioner of NLP, a Principal Practitioner Member of the Association for Business Psychology, as well as a Therapist and a Clinical Hypnotherapist.