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  • Writer's pictureGROW team

10 characteristics of great leaders!

We've all heard or believe in the adage "people don't leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses”.

In a study, 61% of those working for 'bad bosses' mentioned they were looking for another job, while just 27% of those working for good bosses were considering alternate employment. And here’s one that’s really startling: 65% of people with bad bosses said they’ve sometimes misrepresented the truth at work, compared to only 19% of those with good bosses. Just as great bosses bring out the best in us, bad bosses bring out the worst.

When employees are asked to describe the best and worst bosses they have ever worked for, they inevitably ignore innate characteristics (intelligence, extraversion, etc) and instead focus on qualities that are completely under the boss’s control, such as passion, insight, and honesty.

We can all learn, grow and improve the unique qualities of a great leader and evolve.

Great leaders,

  • change us for the better,

  • hey see more in us than we see in ourselves, and they help us learn to see it too,

  • they dream big and show us all the great things we can accomplish,

  • they take care of the careers of those who work for them, not only their own (H.S.M. Burns).

Therefore, being a great boss obviously has a tangible value other than just being liked. But how do we know if we are one? And, if we're not, how do we become one?


Great leaders:

1. Show empathy

They're able to get inside their employees’ skins and understand things from their perspective. That doesn’t mean they’re weak, pushovers, or apologetic about high-pressure days and tight deadlines - but it does mean that they recognize their employees are human and that they treat them as such.

2. Share information

While some bosses seem to think that every piece of information they share reduces their power and authority, great bosses know that sharing information empowers their employees, their team and themselves as leaders.

3. Are great communicators

It seems like some bosses will do anything to avoid giving a straight answer, as they don’t want to say something they can be held accountable for later. Great leaders say what they mean and mean what they say - and they say it clearly, so that people don’t have to read between the lines or try to guess their real meaning.

4. Are accountable

They understand that a large part of their job is being accountable for the team’s performance. They know that this just goes along with accepting a managerial role. That doesn’t mean that they don’t offer the team feedback on what is going wrong, but it does mean that they take the blame publicly. Even privately, they see the team’s failure as a failure of leadership on their part, and they act quickly to correct it.

5. Look for and celebrate wins & successes

They don’t have a “Why should I praise you for doing your job?” attitude. They look for reasons to praise their employees, both privately and publicly, and they take the time to celebrate milestones, instead of just driving everybody on to the next project or deadline. They understand that getting a paycheck doesn’t cancel out that inherent need to feel valued and appreciated.

6. Respect employees' time

They regard that their employees time is just as valuable as their own. They don’t keep their team waiting for scheduled meetings. They show up prepared and get to the point, instead of trying to impress or exert authority with opposite atittudes, that lead to waste of time, over hours to catch up and extra stress.

7. Don't forget that people have lives outside of work

They recognize that work is just one facet of their employees’ lives, and they never forget that they have families, friends, hobbies, and other interests and obligations outside of work - they don’t infringe on their personal lives, by asking them to work late without a very good reason, for example. And when they do have a good reason, they acknowledge that they’re asking for a sacrifice and express their gratitude accordingly.

8. Say "thank you"

They acknowledge that people are putting a huge part of themselves into the work they do. They say thank you, even if it is “just part of the job.”

9. Put a lot of thought into hiring

They think of the entire team, looking for people who will complement the team holistically, rather than just fill in a certain skills gap.

10. Create leaders

They pull the very best out of their people. They inspire, coach, and lean into people’s strengths, and when their employees are ready for new challenges, they gladly send them on their way.


If you’re currently a boss, is this how your employees would describe you? If not, you’re leaving money, effort, and productivity lying on the table. You’re also probably losing some good employees, if not to other jobs, then at least to disengagement and lack of interest. As stated earlier, we can all earn, grow and improve the unique qualities of a great leader!



“A good manager is a man who isn’t worried about his own career but rather the careers of those who work for him. My advice: Don’t worry about yourself. Take care of those who work for you and you’ll float to greatness on their achievements." - H. S. M. Burns

GROW coaching alliance | Business-Leadership Coaching


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