Five Critical Skills of Great Leaders: Making a Transformational Impact
When you look back and consider which leaders had the greatest influence in your life, do you seek ways to emulate their abilities? Great leaders are rarely forgotten; as you move up the corporate ladder, you’ll want to be on the lookout for those same qualities that can help make your own leadership extraordinary. Many characteristics exist that can help define what skills are needed to lead effectively, but the following critical attributes will separate a good leader from a great one.
Link Performance to Emotional Intelligence
It is common for a leader to have to coach and even discipline employees who have problems with communication, decision making, team work and critical thinking, all of which are considered soft skills – essential components of emotional intelligence (EQ). Leaders with a high degree of emotional intelligence have a strong awareness of their own emotions, their strengths, weakness and what drives them. A great leader can self-regulate emotions, manage behaviors and relationships with diplomacy, making decisions that achieve positive results. Therefore, EQ is a strong predictor of performance. Emotional intelligence taps into a fundamental element of human behavior that is distinct from intellect. It is that ‘something’ in each of us that is somewhat intangible, yet it can be acquired and improved with practice.
Create a Culture of Innovation
To innovate does not mean you have to be the next Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos.
Apple and Amazon are the products of two humans that shared rare talents – both were creative visionaries and master builders. Creative genius and building an empire is less important than is the ability to form a vision around an idea or set of ideas and having happy employees follow your lead.
Recognizing a promising idea – especially from someone you manage – takes humility and confidence. A great leader does not have an attitude of superiority and understands that a lone innovator simply does not exist. Innovation leadership starts when you are willing to collaborate and put autonomy in the hands of your employees, cultivating remarkable outcomes.
Know when to Execute
As important as it is to foster and implement ideas, it is equally as important to know when something or someone isn’t working. A great leader recognizes when a project isn’t working. They are willing to kill it and refocus, no matter how much emotional investment has gone into it to-date.
A true leader will invest their energies and resources into something that will bring more value.
In the same vein, when an employee isn’t reaching standards, a great leader will never let underperformance linger. They address employee problems head-on by taking quick, measurable action by implementing a short-cycled plan for coaching and an exit strategy when targets aren’t met.
Communicate Powerfully and Purposefully
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to communication. Knowing your audience and their key motivators is as important as knowing their preferred communication and learning styles.
Great leaders will incorporate all four styles of communication when they deliver a message, whether that’s one on one conversations, team meeting, email, phone or video chat. Every time words are spoken, the message may appeal to one or all four of the following: kinesthetic learners (all hands – learns by doing and participation), auditory learners (All ears – learns by listening), digital learners (Pen and paper-learns by reading words) and visual learners (All sight -learns by maps, charts, diagrams). Great leaders aren’t just communicating to be heard – they are communicating so that they are understood.
Getting in Front of the Inevitable
The future happens every day. We are living in a time where the workplace landscape changes frequently. Uncertainty is not negative; it is an opportunity to get creative and be relentless to improve. Jobs that will be in demand are shifting as more automation is provided by artificial intelligence. Teams are becoming more disparate. Therefore, a great leader must keep abreast of technology advancements and manage the changing relationship between people and emerging tech. A leader accepts change as inevitable and works to stay ahead by anticipating and adapting to change before it occurs.
Defining the attributes of a great leader isn’t measured on skill alone. It is often a testament of will. Staying ahead in an ever-changing industry such as healthcare, necessitates the development of transformational leadership characteristics. Challenging the status quo when mergers and acquisitions, globalization and other types of demographic, financial and situational changes occur, is a distinctive separation between good leadership and being a great leader.