There’s an ongoing argument about whether great leaders are born or made. This is very difficult to definitively settle. On the one hand, some people do have inherent leadership characteristics from a young age. However, many others learn from their leaders as they move through the business world during their careers. Either way, whether it’s instinct or training, these are some near-universal traits that respected and effective leaders possess.
They Know Their Stuff
Any leadership management consultant would be quick to tell you that employees respect leaders who can walk the walk rather than simply talk the talk. It’s not uncommon for executives to move into different industries over their career. The ones who are great leaders make it their business to educate themselves and understand their field. Smart leaders look to their staffs to help with this, which provides an opportunity to empower them.
They Problem-Solve with Quick, Decisive Action
Whether they’re a ranking officer in a military action or a CFO in a board room, a great leader needs to be able to quickly size up a challenge, evaluate the available options, and direct subordinates to carry out the one that makes the most sense. Does that mean they’re always right? No. Chances are, there are several “right” answers, but debating the merits of each one in a group setting sucks up valuable time. A leader will ask for input or more information if they need it. If not, they will set the plan and stick to it.
Finally, great leaders inspire their teams to be more like them. A person working for a great leader will produce better work and tends to emulate their boss. Whether inspiration takes the form of exemplifying a strong work ethic or big, motivational speeches, these things push employees to be the best they can be.