The most effective leaders often share common characteristics required to lead. Characteristics such as great communicator, efficient delegator, passionate manager and encyclopedic source of knowledge. Those are all incredibly important, but maybe not as important as this: the ability to put in the hard work to constantly improve, learn and strive to become a more effective leader everyday.
Much has been written about the characteristics required to lead. When you think about it, most often comes down to a mixture of the following:
- Responsible: all great leaders lead by example.
- Inspiring Communicator: the ability to passionately educate, delegate, inspire and listen to the team.
- Flexibility and Patience: being able to "go with the flow" and adjust the project accordingly.
- Confidence (with Humility): having the confidence to make the big decisions while remaining open to accessible to all members of the team.
- Tenacious: works tirelessly to ensure projects are completed properly, efficiently and most importantly, safely.
Some people are born with personalities that have natural leadership tendencies and these characteristics come more naturally to them. While certain personality types can make anyone a better born-leader, legendary coach Vince Lombardi knew better than most what is required to lead:
"Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."
Exhibiting these characteristics are essential tools for the modern leader and if you look at the above list, most of those traits can be learned through improved self-awareness and communication skills (which will also lead to increased confidence).
Remember, great leaders are made. Some people develop their work ethic at an early age while others have to build towards it. Yet no matter how you get there, every single person is capable of working hard to constantly improve. And hard work pays off.
Hard work doesn't just mean working extra hours and constantly besting productivity benchmarks. It means a dedication to learning and developing new skills.
Take self-awareness for example. Improved self-awareness allows you to better understand your own strengths and weaknesses. This is crucial, as that makes it easier to identify the traits that might need some coaching. Being aware of a personal tendency to rush jobs while under pressure makes you aware of potential high pressure situations as it develops; and gives you the opportunity to calm down, work hard, remember your training and stick to procedure no matter the deadline.
By becoming more self-aware and working hard to maximize your strengths and constantly improve, you will become more patient with others, more confident, more flexible and even more responsible. With more self-awareness you better understand the project, the risks, your strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of your team. It will make you a better manager, delegator, communicator and most importantly, leader.
Strong leadership is crucial, as the leaders are the ones directly responsible for the safe completion of every project. Leaders set the tone for the entire organization and have a major influence on the workplace culture. Great leaders also know that there is no finish line, and they're constantly working hard to evolve, improve and tweak their characteristics that are required to lead.