Leadership is not just limited to a handful of individuals in the C-suite—leaders exist at many levels in an organization. Every supervisor, line manager, and department head should strive for a well-rounded and balanced skill set that will make them an exceptional leader. It might take time to develop all of the necessary skills, but each step in the right direction benefits both the individual and the organization.
To develop world-class leaders at your organization, ensure your training and development programs address these 10 qualities.
Leaders must be likeable if they are going to be successful in the long term. Individuals gravitate toward those they enjoy working with, and if a leader doesn’t have this quality, they will have a hard time connecting with others and excelling in their position. Although many leaders naturally have a degree of charisma, this is a quality that can be continually developed and honed.
Communication is a key skill for leaders, and the best ones do it simply, clearly, and memorably. When great leaders communicate, they focus on making the information easy to understand and recall later. Achieving a world-class level of communication takes practice, but the skill can be taught and improved over time.
Leading a team or an organization requires first having, and then sharing, a vision with clear goals. This involves creating a clear vision for yourself and then having the skills to effectively share it with others and translate it into actionable steps. Conveying direction requires a leader to have both clarity and strong communication skills.
Subject-matter knowledge is essential, but knowing how to use the power that comes from understanding is what makes great leaders stand out. Great leaders also recognize that they don’t always have all of the knowledge they need, and they take the time to read books, attend training events, and continually improve as leaders and individual contributors.
Making important decisions is not always easy, but effective leaders take on this responsibility with confidence. They take the necessary time to assess a situation, and then act decisively. World-class leaders stand behind their decisions and are accountable for outcomes.
Persevering in the face of challenges and displaying confidence in decisions comes from having strong conviction. Leaders who have this conviction will excel in their fields. When individuals recognize that a leader is firm in their convictions and believes in themselves, they are more likely to follow that person. The ability to set goals and persevere until they have been achieved is a sign of a true leader.
Great leaders have the discipline to meet deadlines, fulfill promises, and follow through on commitments. Having the self-discipline to consistently deliver what they say they’re going to deliver and modeling the behavior they want to see in others are two strong leadership qualities that should be encouraged.
Leaders must interact with a lot of people in their daily work. The great ones are able to adapt and meet people where they are to make them feel comfortable. Leaders need to be approachable in order to stay in the loop and stay on track toward organizational goals. People are most inclined to approach others whom they trust, which is why leaders must have integrity and an affable demeanor.
Demonstrating skill in a range of areas is essential for leaders to earn the trust and respect of their team. Competence in a leader’s core field is critical, but great leaders seek to gain new skills as the world evolves around them. Continual learning to adopt new skills is a true indicator of a world-class leader.
A world-class leader might be a very skilled and talented person, but they won’t continue to improve and thrive if they don’t keep their ego in check. Don’t confuse being humble with being subdued or timid; it’s about controlling the ego, not eliminating it completely. Remember that humility and confidence are not mutually exclusive.
It’s rare to find an individual who excels in all of these areas, but it is possible to develop leaders with an effective training and development plan that teaches these qualities over time so participants can eventually master them. World-class leaders recognize that there is always room for improvement and will happily take the necessary steps to advance their skill sets. Work with each individual to Identify the qualities that could be better and invest the time and resources to improve them. This could include reading relevant books and articles, taking a course, going to a training event, and, of course, practicing every day.
For more tips on how to become a world-class leader yourself, read The Leader's Pocket Guide for Leading Yourself, Others & the Organization.