We’ve all heard the saying that there’s a difference between being a boss and being a leader. Countless volumes have been written about leadership, and numerous executives will tell you that leadership is defined by a number of qualities. For example, good leaders know how to motivate employees to do excellent work. They’re able to build consensus. They get things done. They deliver results.
So how can you be an effective leader?
As it turns out, there are several criteria. According to a post on the website for the Center for Creative Leadership, a Greensboro, NC-based leadership development organization, one quality is integrity.
“The importance of integrity should be obvious. Though it may not necessarily be a metric in employee evaluations, integrity is essential for the individual and the organization. It’s especially important for top-level executives who are charting the organization’s course and making countless other significant decisions.”
Entrepreneur and blogger Adam Enfroy agrees. He says that, “Integrity is the cornerstone of all leadership qualities,” and cites several characteristics that a leader with integrity should possess. These include “Apologizing for mistakes” and “Highlighting the work of their employees and downplaying their own contributions.”
There are other important leadership qualities that must be considered. We often view leaders as strong, confident types who are charismatic, cool under pressure and provide a high degree of motivation. But there’s also a need for humility. This often means being approachable and relatable to those you’re leading, and taking a team approach to problem-solving that makes everyone around the conference table feel important to the company and valuable to the project.
Another quality that defines a good leader is demonstrating an unwavering commitment to your customers and helping them do well. Thomas Kane, a Chicago executive, lives this philosophy by being available and accessible. Every good executive and entrepreneur, Thomas Kane believes, succeeds as a leader when they make exemplary client service a top priority.
One of the key qualities that’s almost always attributed to effective leadership is knowing how and when to delegate. After all, no one person in a company can achieve success on his or her own. But beyond that, a strong leader needs to provide autonomy when possible. Employees are hired based on their abilities and experience, and they need to be able to simply do their jobs.
“A leader should empower their subordinates by delegating tasks appropriately, providing proper guidance and limits, and supporting the decisions of the subordinates,” says Eric Bowlin, founder of IdeaREI. “When the subordinate leaders are empowered, their intelligence and talents can be unleashed to help the organization grow. When they are stifled, only the minimum gets accomplished because few are motivated to help an organization that is overbearing.”
And then there’s passion, which every leader needs to have. Do you love what you do and go to work each day filled with excitement about what lies ahead? That’s important, writes Peter Economy at inc.com.
“There’s nothing more inspirational than seeing someone who cares about what they do — the best leaders exhibit boundless energy and passion for what they do. Don’t be shy about your passion for whatever it is you are leading, be it a book reading or a laboratory experiment.”
In other words, passion is infectious, and leaders can use their passion to create enthusiasm in others.