Leaders are both born and made. See if you have what it takes to be a manager, and what you can do to improve the skills you already have.
10 Qualities of a Leader—and How to Acquire Them
Managers don't become leaders overnight. Even “born” leaders don’t start out possessing all these skills. To be a strong leader, you need to:
1. Have vision.
Leaders have a clear sense of where they want to go and how they intend to get there. They see the big picture, then create a strategic plan for achieving their goals.
Learn how to develop your vision :
Befriend top business leaders in your community (not necessarily just those in real estate), read new and classic business books and great leaders’ biographies, and formulate a mission statement for your company.
2. Make decisions.
Leaders aren’t afraid to make difficult or unpopular decisions because they have confidence in themselves and in their abilities. They know that indecision wastes resources and opportunities.
Learn to hone your decision-making skills :
Practice making decisions in areas where failure isn’t critical to increase your confidence. If a decision turns out to be wrong, learn from it and move on.
3. Take risks.
Leaders have the courage to act in situations where results aren’t assured. They're willing to risk failure.
Learn how to take risks:
Analyze the situation, listing pros and cons for each option, then assign each choice a risk factor rating from 1 to 5. Next determine the likelihood that each outcome will occur. This will help you determine how much risk you want to take.
TIP: Don't expect perfection. No one wins all the time. Leaders grow by making mistakes.
4. Motivate others.
Leaders can articulate their vision and ideals to others, convincing them of the value of their ideas. They can inspire people to work toward common goals and to achieve things they never thought they could do.
Learn how to motivate people:
Explore the different needs that motivate people and recognize that the same rewards don’t motivate everyone. Listen carefully to others to learn what motivates them.
TIP: Motivate employees by making sure they understand how their work contributes to a larger goal.
5. Build teams.
Leaders create productive teams that draw the best from people. They effectively coach teams in collaboration, consensus building, and conflict resolution.
Learn how to improve your teambuilding skills :
Avoid preconceived answers to every question. Concentrate on appreciating different points of view during discussions rather than just trying to prove your point. This same willingness to include others is the key to successful teambuilding.
6. Possess self-knowledge.
Leaders know their own strengths and weaknesses and are able to view their behavior objectively. They recognize their shortcomings, open themselves to feedback, and are willing to make changes when necessary.
Learn how to expand your self-knowledge :
Study yourself closely and practice self-assessment techniques to learn how you behave and the effects you have on others. Ask others for their opinions or criticisms and what you can do to become a better leader. Dr. Gerald Bell, business consultant and professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.
TIP: Keep a journal of critical incidents; look back and learn what you did well and what you might have done better.
7. Display integrity.
Leaders must be trustworthy before others will follow them. Warren Bennis, The Leadership Institute, University of Southern California, says qualities that establish trust are competence, constancy, caring, candor, and congruity, which he defines as authenticity, reliability, and feeling comfortable with oneself.
Learn how to assess your integrity:
Actively seek feedback from others friends, co-workers, and even employees to determine if your values and sense of responsibility coincide with those of your peer group.
8. Pursue lifelong learning.
Leaders have a desire to continually learn and grow and are open to new ideas.
Learn how to expand your knowledge:
Maintain a broad focus. Look beyond your colleagues and your own industry for ideas and inspiration and read books on new management theories and ideas.
TIP: Wise managers look for support staff or partners who complement their weaknesses.
9. Communicate effectively.
Leaders can convey their ideas to diverse individuals and adjust their styles to meet the needs of the people they lead.
Learn how to improve communication skills :
Practice communications skills such as active listening. Read between the lines during conversations, especially when dealing with subordinates who may be reluctant to say what they think. Restate important points in several ways or ask listeners to reiterate your point to you to ensure that your meaning is clear.
10. Help others succeed.
Leaders empower others and go out of their way to help them achieve their full potential, thereby benefiting the organization.