There is no one manual on how to be an effective leader, and there is no singular blueprint to follow, but one thing’s for sure: a team can always tell an effective leader from an ineffective one, even before things go one way or the other. The truth is, although great leaders can come in all shapes and sizes, there are a few special traits that we expect to see from our most effective leaders. Among these, communication, integrity, trust, and mentorship are crucial.
It’s no secret that poor communication is a hallmark trait of bad leadership. Poor communication can be the root of many unnecessary problems, of unnecessary stress, and, in extreme cases, it can be outright deadly. Hopefully, your boss’ poor communication isn’t leading to aviation disaster, but the stress of a boss who doesn’t know how to communicate what they need you to do is a stress that we’ve all likely suffered.
What is perhaps trivialized is the opposite point: just how fundamental good communication is to great leadership. Importantly, communication isn’t just about how clearly ideas are formulated. In a leadership context, good communication also means communicating recognition and worth to your team, and this often means actions just as much as it means words.
In order for leadership to be effective, the team has to trust the leadership in the first place. Especially in more traditional business hierarchies, this point is often trivialized by the power dynamic. In reality, trust can’t be automatic—it must be earned.
One of the most important traits a leader can have in order to earn trust is integrity. Not always the most popular fact, a professional workplace has to be held up by certain rules. These rules, however, are meant to be followed by everybody, no matter how far up in the command chain. Leaders who abandon integrity and are inconsistent with their rules are bound to lose their team’s trust.
Speaking of trust, it has to go both ways. Leaders must earn their team’s trust, but leaders must also trust their team. A leader, after all, is responsible not only for bringing together the correct group of individuals, but for making sure that these individuals are able to grow and mature as a coherent team.
Once this is set in place, a leader must trust their team to do their job. That’s why they were hired and trained in the first place, right? Exhibiting trust in a team’s ability to work autonomously is additionally a great way to build workplace morale and a better workplace environment in general.
Revisiting a key point under trust, the most effective leaders don’t just hire great talent, they help that talent grow and mature towards their own goals both inside and outside of the business. To put this more succinctly, great leaders are mentors.
Mentor managers look out for their team, helping them grow. The driving motivation behind this management philosophy, and present throughout here at Living Pono, is that investing in your workers is the best situation for everybody involved. If you genuinely care for and invest in your team as individuals, they will in turn invest more into their duties and responsibilities, which will be reflected in the business more broadly.
Finally, notice that there is a key implicit skill connecting all of these points, and likely connecting every important skill for effective leaders: being involved. A leader can be incredibly well-read, well-versed in leadership philosophies and studies, watch and listen to all of the relevant podcasts, but if they don’t get involved directly with their team, then what’s the point? So, as a final takeaway, before investing too much in developing any of these key skills, ask yourself: could you be more involved with your team?
Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May, an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.