As defined in the preceding section, a leader is someone who inspires, who makes decisions that affect the organization in a positive way, and who can pull together a diverse team to work toward a common goal. But if all managers are not leaders, what are the qualities that set leaders apart?
Charisma is one qualify that is often mistaken as the most important leadership requirement. However, you can attain charismatic leadership more easily if you work to develop the following qualities:
Knowledge. Know your facts and use them. A leader must know the details of the business in order to act for the entire organization.
Trust. Don’t micromanage. If your employees feel you are constantly peering over their shoulders, you will create an atmosphere of distrust. Be aware of what team members are working on, but don’t make them feel like “Big Brother” is watching.
Integrity. A leader will be ineffective if subordinates and superiors do not trust him. The organization soon learns to work around a leader who is untrustworthy or does not keep his word. For example, a leader who tells his employees one thing but does another could be viewed as untrustworthy -even if the difference seems inconsequential to you.
Standards. As a leader, your public and private lives should be exemplary. Lead by example. A leader who expects a certain code of conduct from the employees but does not practice the same standards can suffer a loss of respect. A staff that does not respect the leader will suffer a loss in work quality.
Decisiveness. Leaders are valued for their decision-making abilities, especially in high pressure situations. When confronted with a tough decision, fall back on the knowledge mentioned earlier in this list. The best decisions are decisions made full possession of the facts.
Assertiveness. Leader are chosen to lead a team, group, or entire organization. Often, you’ll be in situations where your staff is not present -for example, high-level organizational meetings. Your assertiveness can and must represent the employees who have put their trust in you.
Optimism. Be realistic but not fatalistic. Your employees and your superiors may soon lose confidence if they are constantly confronted with pessimism or negativity from you. Situations aren’t always ideal, but as a leader you’re expected to find the best way to turn thesituation around. Figure it out and concentrate on the positive.
Results. A leader has a track record of solid decisions and outcomes to point to. If you’ve been managing for some time, try to compile a list of successful decisions and events that you’re responsible for. Not only can you point out these successes to others, but you can use them to build your own confidence in your abilities.
Vision. A leader is expected to set goals that will guide an organization in a specific direction. A leader must think broadly and help the team grow in the right direction.
The appearance of power. As “casual Friday” becomes “casual every day” at a growing number of companies, you still must give off the aura of power in your dress, carriage, and surroundings. In a traditional environment, men should wear suits and remain relatively conservative in their choice of tie and shoes. Women, too, should dress tastefully and err on the side of looking conservative. In a casual environment, both men and women should avoid wearing jeans and T-shirts.
The qualities that make a leader are charisma, knowledge, trust, integrity, standards, decisiveness, assertiveness, optimism, results, vision, and the appearance of power.