"A good leader will always …"
How you complete that sentence could speak volumes about your leadership skills.
Good leadership in the workplace is crucial for the long-term success of your business and superb employee experience.
In fact, there's a 1674% chance of an employee having a strong perception about your leadership when you connect them to their purpose, accomplishments, or each other.
Great leaders inspire and motivate their team members. But it's easier said than done.
Being a good leader can be challenging. It takes a lot of practice and focus. But like any other skill, you can learn to be an effective leader.
If you don't know how to be a good leader, you're in luck. We'll explore 10 qualities of a good leader to give you tips to become a strong leader at work.
What makes a good leader in the workplace?
A good leader engages in open communication, motivates their team members, leads by example, listens to feedback, and is open to new ideas in an ever-changing workplace.
Anyone can sit in a corner office and boss people around, but there's more to effective leadership than that.
Learning the traits of a good leader will help you significantly impact your company's success.
With that in mind, here are 10 attributes of a good leader and how to use them effectively to your advantage.
1. Good leaders engage in open communication.
Employees want to be heard — whether it's an issue that needs resolving or ideas they believe would improve the business or better serve clients.
When you don’t communicate well with your team, they may feel discouraged, resulting in poor morale and lower production. Project.co shared that 35% of businesses have lost an employee due to poor communication.
The best leaders customize their communication styles to suit each situation and team members' preferences — which means they take the time to learn which communication mode each team member prefers.
Do your employees prefer email or phone conversations? Or maybe face-to-face?
You can also use a straightforward mobile app like Blink to turn your employees into a close-knit group by enabling communications between them.
Effective communication decreases misunderstandings and employee errors, builds trust among team members, and improves morale. Pumble backs that up, stating that effective communication can increase a team's productivity by 25%.
As long as it's done respectfully, you should maintain a work environment that promotes honest communication.
You can also encourage open communication by:
- Promoting a judgment-free environment since your employees are likely to give their opinions more often when they don’t fear discrimination.
- Giving undivided attention to your team members when they’re speaking.
- Asking your employees for suggestions to increase their engagement. You'll aim to implement employee engagement strategies that work.
- Asking (not demanding) your employees to do stuff for you.
2. Great leaders encourage professional and personal development.
One of the most critical leadership qualities you can have is nurturing your staff by giving them personal development opportunities.
That can include anything from leadership training or teaching them a new skill to encouraging them to pursue a passion that inspires them in and out of the workplace.
In 2021, Lorman shared that 70% of employees are likely to leave their current job to work for an organization that invests in employee growth and development.
Employees value learning opportunities, so it's no surprise that companies with successful training programs typically see a significant increase in employee retention.
Picture a company culture where every team member receives training according to their interests. In such a case, every employee will feel you care about their goals, dreams, and overall well-being.
When that happens, your employees will go above and beyond to help you achieve your goals and vision.
Here are four strategies you can use to encourage professional and personal development in the workplace:
- Encourage mentoring and coaching between managers and employees.
- Identify and develop soft skills such as time management, active listening, and delegation.
- Implement cross-departmental training programs to increase the efficiency of your entire company.
- Use a learning management system (LMS) to streamline employee training.
3. Successful leaders lead their employees by example.
One of the characteristics of a good leader is their ability to ‘walk the talk.’
Here’s an instance of a true leader leading by example:
Jane is a manager at a local bank with a team of seven employees (you can pretend that’s Jane and her team in the above picture). She shows up to work a few minutes early to plan her schedule.
When her team starts to arrive, she greets them warmly and inquires about their families.
She then calls her team members into a morning meeting. And instead of leading with her plan, she gives each person a chance to voice their ideas. She appreciates their input and asks them to create proposals to bring their ideas to life.
When it’s time to start working, Jane attends to clients like the rest of the team.
As a result, Jane gets high levels of employee engagement since she demonstrates that she’s invested in her team's initiatives and business.
Leading by example means guiding your employees through actions instead of words. The saying ‘do as I say, not as I do’ has no place in today’s world.
Nowadays, employees want to see your actions match what you say. That means showing them what’s required instead of just telling them.
Here are four ways to lead by example:
- Be a role model to your employees by walking the talk.
- Give clear instructions to your staff.
- Avail yourself to answer questions your employees might have.
- Make employees feel part of the team by letting them know why you're giving them specific instructions.
- Use respectful words like ‘please’ when giving instructions to your team members.
4. Strong leaders give constructive feedback to employees about their performance.
Employee feedback is an incredibly effective tool. Offered well, it can grow your employees, strengthen bonds between staff and managers, and improve trust levels.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
— Bill Gates
Direct, honest feedback is the best way to steer your team in the right direction.
Don’t wait for monthly or quarterly assessments to give your employees feedback. Give them right after an event has occurred. It will have the most significant impact on their performance.
Here are four tips to help you give employees effective feedback that gets the results you need:
- Give individual feedback privately.
- Avoid sandwiching corrective feedback between two positive feedbacks. It will create confusion, undermine the feedback, and decrease trust levels.
- Focus on your employees' behaviors (what they do) rather than their personality traits (what they’re like).
5. Secure leaders ask for feedback from employees about their leadership style.
The saying goes: there’s always room for improvement. That’s especially true when you're a good leader.
Who can point out these growth opportunities better than your employees?
After all, they work with you every day, so they know your strengths and weaknesses.
“Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions.”
— Ken Blanchard
However, getting honest feedback isn’t always easy.
Employees may feel awkward revealing their true thoughts. They may not want to offend anyone's feelings or face future consequences for harsh criticism. That may cause them to give you fluffy feedback or avoid the request.
Use these tips to ask your employees for feedback and increase the likelihood that they give honest, actionable feedback:
- Ask your employees specific questions instead of vague questions such as, “What do you think?”
- Tell your staff not to hold back on their feedback and make them feel they’re doing you a favor by being honest.
- Give them time to think about your questions and develop helpful answers.
- Ask employees about what you can do better in the future rather than what you did wrong in the past.
6. Transformational leaders are open to change and new ideas.
Change is hard — even if the change is for the better. Successful leaders are aware of this and don't pretend otherwise.
They also understand that embracing change with the right mindset is critical to creating an environment where change is integral to their company's DNA.
A great leader never wants to be the smartest person in the room. They surround themselves with a team of experts with more ideas and experience without feeling threatened.
And when these experts are led well, they can be a powerful force in driving strategy, making changes, and enhancing the company's bottom line. They’ll perform at a high level with little oversight and push you to grow continually.
“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
— Steve Jobs
Whether you're leading a team of two or five thousand, below are four ways to embrace new ideas and get your employees on the ‘change-wagon’ faster:
- Surround yourself with a committed team of experts.
- Understand why you need the change and clearly express the desired outcome.
- Include your employees in decision-making from the get-go to strengthen their commitment to change.
- Make sure your beliefs and behaviors support the change. Be resilient, persistent, and willing to step outside your comfort zone.
7. Effective leaders set clear employee goals and delegate work.
A good leader makes sure their employees are doing what they’ve assigned them to do to achieve the company's mission and goals.
The instructions you give should be measurable and quantifiable. Use existing data to develop a baseline for employees to do their best work.
Moreover, 2021 research by Bi Worldwide showed that 31% of employees said their manager set attainable goals for them, but they weren’t challenging. So be sure to have goal-setting discussions with your employees to set goals that will challenge them to grow.
An effective leader also knows what tasks to delegate. They know they can’t accomplish everything alone, so they assign tasks to team members they’re confident will complete them.
As a result, they empower and boost their employees’ morale. And in the process, they free up their time to focus on what will yield the highest returns and grow the business.
Here are three tips to help you delegate tasks to your team members:
- Look for opportunities to delegate tasks based on your teams' strengths and weaknesses.
- Walk your employees through the project you're delegating and clarify when you need it done.
- Give continuous feedback and be specific on what they did well and what they need to improve on.
- Aligned with implementing employee experience strategies and positive employee lifecycle
8. Great leaders are passionate about their work.
A good leader has the right motivation and passion. They’re not driven by money or prestige but genuinely want to inspire others to do their best.
Passionate leaders increase productivity and make sure workers are committed to the company's values, mission, and vision.
“A great leader's courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”
— John C. Maxwell
Most successful leaders have a passion (not a job) and know how to rally others around that passion.
In short, passionate leaders lead with heart.
Here are seven qualities that set passionate leaders apart from the crowd:
- They're open-minded and respect differing opinions.
- They have a positive attitude and superb problem-solving skills.
- They’re great communicators and listen with the intent of genuinely understanding rather than advancing their agenda.
- They're future-focused and capable of engaging others to achieve their goals.
- They look at the big picture and embrace challenges.
- They're risk-takers and put in the hard work to execute ideas.
- They're self-aware, surround themselves with like-minded people, and sustain collaborative relationships.
Your ability to inspire, motivate, and create a magnetic vision needs commitment and perseverance. But it’s worth the effort, whether your goal is productivity, employee retention, or project management.
9. Successful leaders have a positive attitude even when things go south.
Most people tend to associate good leadership with smooth sailing.
After all, what can go wrong if you build and nurture a great team and generate excellent ideas?
…. a lot.
But whether it's a minor misunderstanding or a significant error, how you handle a negative situation reveals a lot about your emotional intelligence and leadership abilities.
“Great leadership usually starts with a willing heart, a positive attitude, and a desire to make a difference.”
— Mac Anderson
When things go south, your words and actions as a leader are critical. Here’s what you can do during those times:
- Take time to evaluate the situation and know what the problem is.
- Face the problem with positivity and look for solutions.
- Be flexible and adaptable and make adjustments along the way.
- Remain persistent and determined to solve the issues.
10. Good leaders are always learning.
All successful leaders have one trait in common — a hunger for learning. They enroll in relevant online courses, read great books, use the best tools, and constantly improve.
Great leaders have an innate sense of curiosity that often drives them to learn more, which helps them perform better for their businesses and provide personal fulfillment.
“Leadership is not an expertise. Leadership is a constant education.”
— Simon Sinek
Learning helps great leaders challenge their assumptions and bring clear understanding to the table.
In contrast, failure to keep learning means you won't adapt to the ever-changing work environment. And depending on your industry's competition, this can be a significant issue that spells the death of your company.
Here are three ways to keep learning and become a better leader:
- Embrace an open mind to see things from different perspectives.
- Read relevant books, industry publications, and blogs.
- Take advantage of consultants, personal networks, industry events, and other organizations and learn from them.
How to be a good leader at work: your checklist
- Openly communicate: Make sure your team always know what's going on and what is expected of them.
- Develop your team: Push each team member in their personal development. Make sure you each team member has a clear and robust personal development plan.
- Lead by example: Easier said than done, but be the example your team can learn from. Show them the type of employee you want them to be.
- Give constructive feedback: Don't be afraid to give constructive feedback. 1-1's are normally the place for this.
- Ask for feedback: You won't always get things right, and not everyone will agree with you. Ask for feedback from your team on your management style and how you can improve.
- Be open to change and new ideas: If a team member has an idea or a new way of doing things, be open to it. Don't stick to the way things are just because "that's how it's always been".
- Set goals & delegate: You can't do everything on your own, give your team responsibility and delegate tasks appropriately. This can help with point 2 as well.
- Show your passion: If you love your job, show it. This passion can be infectious and help motivate your team.
- Keep positive: Things won't always go to plan, but you can weather the storm. Keep positive and let your team know you have their back with whatever road bumps you hit.
- Don't stop learning: Your development also doesn't stop. If you want to lead by example you need to make sure you are up to date with the latest techniques and strategies for your role.
What makes a good leader FAQs
What are 7 important leadership qualities?
7 important leadership qualities are:
3. Leading by example
4. Positive attitude
5. Never stop learning
6. Ask & take on board feedback
7. Provide constructive feedback
What are the 3 most important characteristics of a leader?
The three most important characteristics of a leader are communication, passion & teamwork.
Why character is important to a leader?
A good leader will often lead by example, without even realising it. This is why character is important to a leader. Character builds trust and credibility, promotes loyalty.
Wrapping up: What makes a good leader in the workplace?
Most people aren’t born with the ability to get things done and inspire others every day. And that’s okay — you don’t have to be born with that ability to succeed.
Although it takes time to be a good leader, you can learn strong leadership skills. But like any other skill, it takes a lot of practice and focus.
Just keep in mind it also requires you to grow and engage your team. Blink’s Employee Engagement App can help you keep employees engaged and connected. Try it out today.