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8 traits all great leaders possess

three men pushing a broken down car

From empathy and level-headedness, to humility and accountability, here are eight virtues all top leaders share.

1. Empathy

There’s a reason this is number one—the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes not only makes you more understanding of others’ failures, it also alerts you to your shortcomings, which engenders humility. Empathy represents peak self-awareness, and self-awareness is absolutely key to powerful leadership. When you take the time to understand what motivates people both personally and professionally, you will get the best out of them.

2. Only get the best

An uncompromising approach to recruitment is vital not only for a company’s growth, but for your own too. By employing people who can challenge you, you not only boost your own self-development, you set a culture of excellence as well as an openness to new ideas. And remember that by lowering your standards to accommodate those who are less motivated will only cause your top talent to become restless.

3. Breathe…

silhouette of woman sitting on a bench overlooking mountains at sunset
Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

All businesses go through challenging times. This is probably when your true traits as a leader are revealed. It’s easy to lead when everything is thriving and your team is in harmony, but what happens when you hit that brick wall and/or have discord among your staff? Do you cower and/or lose your temper? Or do you take a breath, remain calm (despite the panic inside!) and work towards solving the problem?

4. Remember to give feedback (and ask for some your way)

One of the more common complaints from an unhappy employee is not receiving due recognition for a job well done. It doesn’t have to be every day, or even every week, but it’s so important to remember—among all your own busyness—to take a moment to tell your team or a particular individual how much you value their work. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, just a simple email to say, “Great job!” is enough for most people. In the same vein, make it clear to your team that you want their feedback too—let them know it’s okay for them to challenge you and give advice if they feel something is wrong, as well as present any idea to you, not matter how crazy it might seem.

5. Infinitely accountable

Taking responsibility for both your successes and, especially, failures not only ensures you’re constantly learning more about yourself, it also sets certain targets and ambitions in stone so that other people will be aware if you’ve reached them or not. Evolve believes that being part of a peer group is one of the best ways to create this accountability.

6. Look to the future

If the pandemic has taught us anything it this—be prepared for any possibility. Remember that good times don’t last, but also remember the same is true of challenging times. A good leader has the resources, fortitude and wisdom to know that things change, but they’ve put measures in place to ensure he or she is as prepared as possible.

7. Encourage personal development

It’s a given that concerted self-development applies to you as the leader, but what about your team? Make it clear from day one that your staff is here to become the best version of themselves, and that you are happy to play a role in that. Whether it’s offering healthy food in the workplace or paying for online courses in things that interest them, showing that you care about their careers as well as their wellbeing creates loyalty and high levels of excellence.

8. Invest in your comms

By this, we mean ensure that you communicate your intentions, vision and feelings to your team as clearly as possible. Written digital communication is fraught with potential misunderstandings and misinterpretations; whether it’s an instruction that wasn’t clear enough or a comment that got taken the wrong way—be careful about what you say, and how you say it.

close up of woman holding mug that says world's best boss on it it
I mean, yeah, what can I say?
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash