We are months into the new year and I can still think of several goals I would like to accomplish, and traits I would like to work on. For you, it may be to loose 5 — 10 pounds by the summer, or to work on your patience and self-control. For others, it may be to save more financially.
For whatever it may be, we all strive to be “better” than we were. Not only from the year before, but from the day before. For me, I’ll be honest, I want to be a better leader. There are characteristics and things that I want to excel in, not only for the new year, but in life, period.
Thus, with some retrospection, I have thought of 10 traits every leader should develop. Whether you’re in charge of a team or the leader for a group project, these are things you should grow in.
1. Admit to your mistakes
Sometimes being a leader requires admitting to your failures. We all make mistakes, and helping your team see that you’re only human, it helps them have more respect for you. It gives them more room to admit to the their mistakes and learn from them.
2. Apologize and Correct
With admitting to your mistakes, correct them. Apologizing doesn’t make you a weak leader. Apologizing shows you are a leader who has a heart for the people you serve and follow you. Alongside correction, correct people in love because you want to see them grow, and not because you are the “leader” and you can.
3. Keep Your Word and Follow Through
Integrity is a quality that seems to be a dying thing in today’s society. Only a few with strong convictions seem to posses it. As leaders, we have to have the ability to keep our word. I know at times things can happen, and we can fail on our word. But if we continue to do it, in a habitual way, then we have failed not only the people we serve, but the people who follow behind us. Keep your word. Your team will be able to count on you when you’ve done what you said you will do. When keeping your word, you have to follow through.
4. Encourage your team
Everyone needs a good word of encouragement. If you see that your team is struggling, encourage them privately and publicly. Your words of encouragement can be the push that your team needs to close out a deal, complete an order, or even write a piece for your site.
5. Have a vision
“Without a vision, the people will perish.” This was true for those in the Bible and it is true now. Every new year, people do the task of completing a vision board for the year of things they want to do or accomplish. It is a healthy thing to visually see what you want. You have a vision that you want to make plain. It is the same thing for you and your team. Help them understand the vision, be committed to the vision, and accomplish the vision. Help them all be on the same page to see what, as a team, you are collectively striving for.
6. Lead by Example
We have all heard the phrase, “be careful what you do, because there is always someone watching.” The same can be said for leaders who have a following. Someone is always watching you, so lead by example. No one likes a leader who just points their finger and tells you where to go. You’re not being a leader, but a dictator. A leader is one who gets dirty just like his/her workers are getting dirty. A leader walks alongside you instead of walking in front of you, and looking to see how far you are behind them. Be the leader who leads by example.
7. Help your team grow in their strengths
When I worked as a manger in a restaurant, I placed my team of employees in areas in which they would excelled in. When we would have lunch rushes, I was confident that we wouldn’t get backed up because everyone was placed in areas that they were strong in. We succeeded because everyone succeeded in their specific strengths. Know what your team is good at doing, and help them grow in that. Every now and then help them work on their weaknesses, but don’t harbor on the negative.
8. Give your team a break
Rest. Rest. Rest. Sometimes your team needs a break. If you want them to be at their full potential, they are going to need to take a break. Their minds need to be refreshed, and taking a break is vital to keeping your team going. Maybe you can give them vacation time off, an hour break, or even the day off, it is needed to keep your team working at their best potential. And as a leader, don’t forget to take your break as well.
9. Listen to your team
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” — James 1:19. Yes, you are the leader. Yes, you have authority to speak and be heard. But what about your team? Listen to your team. Listen to what they’re saying. And listen to what they’re not saying.
Their opinion, concern, or viewpoint could help you from making a bad decision or confirm a possible decision. You’re team should be able to have a voice in something they are putting their time, money, and skills into. Thus making them feel like a valuable player to the team, vision, and brand that has been developed.
10. Look at who is leading you
Even though you are a leader leading others, who is leading the leader? Who do you get your motivation and encouragement from? Who is helping you be a better leader? Who is advising you? If you are not gleaning from someone higher than you, you can lead in error. “Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is safety” — Proverbs 11:14.
Being a leader takes sacrifice and the ability to understand your team, to help everyone get to where you’re trying to go. Having a title doesn’t make you a leader and someone telling you you are a leader, doesn’t make you a leader. But having the characteristics of a leader and leading by example makes you a leader. Leaders know how to deal with certain situations, admit to mistakes, take advice, and work well with people they’re not too fond of. Above all, as leaders, we must lead people well.