To understand the most admired qualities in a leader, we asked ten professionals, including Presidents and Leadership Coaches, to share their insights. From humanity to visionary prowess, discover the qualities that these experts value most in effective leadership.
● Humanity: Leading with Empathy and Respect
● Self-Awareness: Key to Positive Work Environment
● Passion and Discipline: Driving Forces in Leadership
● Empathy: Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness
● Vulnerability: A Distinctive Leadership Quality
● Control of Self: Proactive Leadership
● Focus: Balancing Results and People
● Balance: Key to Engaging Leadership
● Authenticity: Creating a Culture of Openness
● Visionary Prowess: Inspiring and Motivating Teams
Humanity: Leading with Empathy and Respect
A leader with humanity is the one I most admire. Leaders who lead with humanity often exhibit characteristics and behaviors, such as empathy, authenticity, humility, and respect. These are individuals who understand that the most profound impact is achieved when they win the hearts and minds of their followers, rather than merely relying on legitimate power or authority. It’s important to remember that businesses exist for people, not the other way around.
Consider this example: Anne noticed that Clay, one of her team members, started missing some deadlines. Instead of threatening him, she arranged a conversation to genuinely inquire about his well-being. She found out that he was dealing with personal issues at home, which were affecting his focus and work.
Anne acknowledged these challenges and offered her support and solutions, giving him the necessary time and space to recover. Thanks to her human-centered approach, Clay felt acknowledged and valued. He could bounce back and became a valuable, loyal contributor.
Self-Awareness: Key to Positive Work Environment
One quality I admire in leaders is self-awareness, or the ability to know ourselves and how others see us. Self-aware leaders have a unique advantage in understanding their values, behaviors, and perceptions, which allows them to make more informed decisions and cultivate a positive work environment.
I once coached a CEO who demonstrated remarkable self-awareness. During challenging times, instead of blaming external factors, he would take a step back to examine his own contributions to the situation. He openly acknowledged when he made mistakes and actively sought feedback from his team. This created an environment where team members felt comfortable doing the same, fostering a culture of safety and continuous improvement.
Moreover, his self-awareness extended to recognizing the strengths of his team members and empowering them to thrive in their respective roles. As a result, the organization experienced significant growth and success under his tenure.
Passion and Discipline: Driving Forces in Leadership
A leader’s focus is to guide others to new levels of achievement and fulfillment. It is essential to admire individuals who understand and follow their life’s passions and calling.
To make a dramatic, positive impact in your life and the world around you, it’s necessary to tap into the unconscious drivers that make you special and unique. These are your special talents and gifts that provide you with unlimited inspiration and drive to overcome the challenges that most won’t dare to face.
Researching the prominent leaders through time, you find that each of them had their own daily routine that supported the development and refinement of their beliefs.
Passion and discipline are key. Together, they will help anyone enhance their performance while embracing integrity and joy.
While you may not agree with his decisions, Elon Musk is a person greatly respected for his fortitude and vision as a leader.
Empathy: Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness
Empathy is a critical trait that can significantly enhance leadership effectiveness.
Empathy allows leaders to understand their team members’ perspectives, emotions, and needs. This understanding helps leaders make informed decisions. It also allows leaders to build stronger connections with their team members. This leads to increased trust, open communication, and a positive work environment where team members feel valued and understood.
An empathetic leader is better at listening and communicating with their team. Which leads to a better approach with conflicts and a more understanding and collaborative mindset. This fosters loyalty and commitment among their team members.
While empathy is a powerful leadership trait, it’s also essential for leaders to strike a balance, or it could lead to burnout.
Nageen Riffat, Business Leadership Coach, Author, and Speaker
Vulnerability: A Distinctive Leadership Quality
Vulnerability will distinguish you from many other leaders out there. When transitioning from an individual-contributor role, vulnerability is required as you recognize and accept that you must learn new skills to succeed as a leader.
The demands on leaders have changed over the years, and your most important responsibility is to motivate, engage, and develop your team members. You’ll feel overwhelmed if you try to hang on to the day-to-day tasks and lead your team. It’s okay to admit you can’t do it all. In fact, it’s necessary to distinguish yourself as an effective leader.
Control of Self: Proactive Leadership
The quality I most admire in a leader is “control of self.” When a leader has “control of self,” they have learned how to respond to situations based on values and principles instead of emotions. A leader must be proactive and able to lead themselves well first to be effective at leading and influencing others. When we are proactive and have control over self (emotions, choices, behaviors, habits, words, etc.), especially in stressful situations, our ability to lead at a high-level increases exponentially.
An example of this is a leader who accepts responsibility and works to find a solution when a project goes wrong, instead of losing their temper and yelling at their team members. A leader worth following realizes a proactive response to any situation will increase trust, influence, and respect with their followers.
Focus: Balancing Results and People
The ability to find a balance between being results-focused and people-focused is crucial. The most effective leaders can focus on the results they need to deliver, while also offering support and coaching along the way to build their people and ensure they feel valued and supported.
The leader who tries too hard to accommodate the needs of their team (at the expense of results), or the leader who sacrifices the well-being of their team to push for results, are two examples where the balance is off.
Balance: Key to Engaging Leadership
I most admire leaders who have balance. They know when to be direct and when to be diplomatic, when to span across domains while staying at a high level, and when to dig into the details like an expert. The ability to adjust to the people and the circumstances generates the best engagement from the most people, and therefore, better results.
Authenticity: Creating a Culture of Openness
When it comes to leadership, I believe that authenticity and self-awareness stand out as the most important qualities. A great leader knows who they are and isn’t afraid to be themselves. This means being transparent about their strengths and weaknesses and understanding what makes them unique.
The best leaders never try to fit into a mold, but instead, are always striving to be the best possible leader they can be. One of my favorite examples of an authentic and self-aware leader is top executive and bestselling author, Sheryl Sandberg. Her book, “Lean In,” emphasizes the importance of resilience and grit.
When leaders are authentic and self-aware, they inspire others to be the same. They create a culture of trust and openness. As a result, teams are more creative and engaged, and everyone feels like they have a stake in the organization’s success. So if you want to be a great leader, start by becoming self-aware and being authentically yourself.
Visionary Prowess: Inspiring and Motivating Teams
The quality I most admire in a leader is visionary prowess: the ability to not only foresee the future but also vividly articulate it in a way that inspires and motivates their team. This capacity to encapsulate a compelling vision and bind the team around that shared objective is invaluable.
Take, for instance, Rick South, the former Youth Pastor at HYM. His leadership style embodied this trait impeccably. South consistently painted a clear picture of his strategic direction for the youth group, explaining not only the “what,” but also illuminating the “why” and outlining potential impacts.
His articulate vision significantly influenced those under his leadership, fostering a steady and unified movement towards shared goals. His ability to use words as powerful tools for encouragement and motivation illustrates the immense impact of being a visionary leader.