When we think about great leaders such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama, or Oprah Winfrey, the first thing that might spring to mind is charisma, the ability to draw others into the orbit of your own ambition and share the dream.
Conversely, bad leaders repel or frustrate staff, neglect opportunities, and exist in a permanent state of delusional self-aggrandizement. Not everyone is cut out for a job at the top.
However, for every magnetic leader, there’s a divisive, shy, or peculiar one – think Mark Zuckerberg, Margaret Thatcher, or Donald Trump. What then do all these people have in common? What makes thousands or even millions of people want to follow them, work for them, or hold them up as sources of inspiration?
There are three qualities that are mandatory if you want to be a great leader. Let’s have a look at these essential personality traits in a little more detail.
Bill Gates famously reads fifty books a year. When asked why, he told Insider magazine “reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding”.
The tendency not to rest on one’s laurels is key to good leadership. It’s converse, being a know-it-all, alienates employees and prevents a leader from learning new skills. Given how fast things are changing in our technology-driven age, it behooves leaders to develop a humble approach to knowledge.
If you are new to leadership or harbor ambitions to lead a team one day, here are three simple ways for developing an open and receptive mind:
Another vital aspect of leadership is recognizing your team’s achievements, rewarding success, and promoting new talent. During the COVID-19 pandemic, employee resignation has proven a huge problem. There’s even a name for it – The Great Resignation. Recently, NPR reported a record four million resignations in April 2021 alone.
The reasons for this mass exodus were many:
Ultimately, it’s down to leaders to make workplaces inviting spaces for employees to return to. The ingredients for this are simple, yet often overlooked – employee rewards and recognition and advancement. Great leaders develop the unique skills their employees have, even when this creates a temporary vacancy, or increased financial outlay because of training costs or pay hikes.
Forbes recently outlined 15 ways that leaders could show appreciation to their staff, not all of which cost money. Even simple praise can pay dividends in increased productivity.
As poet William Blake put it: “The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”
If you’re a naturally risk-adverse person, you’re probably not a born leader. There’s a reason why three of the world’s most famous billionaire CEOs took to space in 2021. Leaders inspire by example and are always seeking the next big thing. There’s a host of reasons why this might be, including:
That last point isn’t a glib throwaway. Give your employees the opportunity to shine by developing new products, services, or ways of working and you’re buying something priceless – job satisfaction. That’s the best protection against employee churn.
Master just these three elements, and you’re firmly on the way to becoming a much better leader.