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10 Qualities of A Successful Leader


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Leadership comes in many different forms, and it can also be interpreted in many ways. A prime example of where leadership takes place would be in a working environment. True leadership takes practice, and practice makes perfect.

In this article, we will highlight 10 qualities of a successful leader, in which you can then apply to yourself.


  1. Respect

‘’Treat people how you want to be treated, respect is earned, not given” Hussein Nisah

An important and simple skill when being a leader would be respect. This includes the team, manager, clients, new employees and more. Leaders understand that being respectful earns trust and respect in return from those around them. Letting their team know that they appreciate them, and their work, can improve team morale whilst supporting them in achieving their goals.


2. Trust

Following from the above, leaders require trust from their team to support the vision and values. In order to carry out decisions and progress trust is a necessity. How does a leader gain trust? Showing trust, delegating tasks and projects whilst giving responsibility. If someone makes a mistake, leaders will help them learn by teaching them on how to improve with areas of opportunity.

The combination of ownership and responsibility will help encourage trust from the team. Author Steven M.R. Covey says there’s a business case for trust that accelerates success. “When your team trusts you, they will tell you the truth and engage in healthy conflict. They will show you that they’re just as invested in the outcome of the decision as you are, and that’s invaluable because it allows you to build strong relationships” 


3.  Leaders Emphasise  

To be a successful leader this unrecognised skill will help you improve your leadership ability. How so? If you want to create an efficient and high performing team, you need to listen, show them support and see a situation from their perspective. By taking the time to understand their point of view into consideration will help improve trust and communication.

Leaders will provide guidance and support. They acknowledge what the team is experiencing and show them how they can relate to that situation to help them find a solution.


4. Be Resilient

One of our core values, for example, is resilience. Leaders in their tenure will take risks, they won’t be afraid to fail and sometimes this can also inspire confidence and motivation from the team. Being resilient also means acknowledging past mistakes, learning from them which is valuable experience going forward.

Taking on challenges and overcoming them is significant and rewarding, more so when a team receives support from a leader in the process.


5. Authenticity

A key trait in becoming a successful leader is to showcase personality. Pretending to be someone you’re not will not inspire confidence or trust in within a team. A common example being ‘loud and assertive’ or ‘only extroverts make great leaders’ Leaders can come in many different forms, so it’s important to be authentic and showcase strengths- whilst still being adaptable.

Being more naturally calm and methodical towards a challenge can help a team in pressurised situations, calming them down will help them gain control, whilst being assertive and showcasing high energy can help boost morale and team efforts on a long and stressful project. Successful leaders recognise that it’s important to showcase who they are, being authentic will help carve out your own distinctive leadership ability. The result is an authentic relationship built upon healthy dialogue, transparency and very few surprises.


6. Transparency

Successful leaders recognise that in order to gain trust, they need to encourage transparency and share information. Teams need direction, with either the company or a project. Communication is key in establishing transparency. Leaders understand that it’s better to be upfront and honest, so colleagues can understand how to deal with projects, and how they can help.

Leaders will often monitor and share weekly statistics, goals and data providing consistent insight and clarity in regards to the progress of the business. A solid feedback loop is how the best organisations sustain positive momentum and growth.


7. They Encourage Feedback

Assumptions are the cause of most problems in the workplace. Yet they continue to persist in some. Why? People are busy working. As a result, we try to save time by communicating quickly and electronically. That’s where things go wrong, and miscommunication becomes more apparent. It’s deemed easier to send messages or emails rather than having an actual conversation with someone. But tone, intention, and context are impossible to decipher via email, text or Slack, and the feedback we give and receive either gets lost in translation or misconstrued.

Leaders make sure the members of the team are getting face time with each other to share feedback. At Upside, every person has multiple one-to-ones across their team—leaders, individual contributors and peers.

It’s also a good idea to understand how each person prefers feedback. For example, maybe they prefer to listen, think, and talk again later. Those preferences matter, and if you honour them, you’ll get better results from your team.


8. Leaders listen, then lead

The best types of leaders make time, they listen to feedback and become role models for those around them. By listening and then leading, shows they’re acknowledging the team to then create an action plan. They will then inform those around them of their decision making, and then delegate tasks to each member.

Those that refuse to listen and have their own opinion won’t become true leaders, nor will they succeed by isolating themselves from their team. Successful leaders listen, then lead, extracting solid insights that will provide intel to then improve themselves as well as the team. If people don’t see changes made as a result, they won’t feel encouraged to share their opinions as freely in the future.


9. Change can be a good thing

One of the unenviable responsibilities of leaders is that they’re required to make tough choices. The best leaders understand that it's critical to change course when presented with new information, even if new facts conflict with prior decisions. A truly exceptional leader will adjust their strategy given the new context.

Here’s what it might look like from a recruitment perspective. A client wants to take a fantastic candidate on board, but the candidate has a family and therefore there are complications in relocating. The key is to communicate changes that follow a feedback loop/pattern, for example:

  1. Leaders will research extensively and create a backup plan.
  2. They receive new information and communicate that effectively.
  3. They realise that they need to develop a new strategy (prioritise both the client and candidate feedback and make the necessary changes in order to find a solution)The best leaders practice this pattern daily—checking if the constant flow of new information requires a change in strategy.


10. Practice makes perfect

The best leaders realise that every day is an opportunity to learn and practice in order to constantly improve themselves. They realise it's important to practice sharpening their skills further. This simple habit will increase your chances of being a more successful leader.

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