5 Traits of the Best Leaders and Managers

Leadership vs Management

The best leaders understand relationships. via Victor

As an executive it’s your job to be the leader. And it’s your leadership that will mean the difference between a a good company and a great company.

Leadership vs. Management

The “Manager” is usually a defined role in a company. The manager is typically responsible for a task and for employees, but not so for the leader.

Leaders do not necessarily have defined roles. A leader can have defined roles like the CEO of a company or the leader of a task force. Most times, though, leaders play key roles in the company without a formal title.

Leadership and management might be defined differently, but the two roles are linked.

As a leader you need to act the correct way to ensure success at your company.

To understand better we’ll look at the traits of the best leaders and managers.

Traits of the Best Leaders and Managers

1. Goal Setters

The best leaders and managers understand the importance of goals.

Setting goals gives people something to shoot for as they work. Goals motivate some and just act as a path for others. Either way, it is about engagement.

Developing goals comes from understanding your market and business. Knowing how to set a goal is part art and part science. Experience plays a large role too.

You have the necessary knowledge and experience to set goals. Set a goal that seems attainable while pushing people to beyond their comfort zone.

The cliché saying in life is that if you shoot for the moon you’re still among the stars even if you miss your goal. It’s an overused saying because it’s a good analogy for setting goals in life and in business.

People want to succeed. They want to be part success, but they need to be pushed by leaders.

2. Framework Providers

There is a balance when it comes to guiding people to achieve goals.

As the leader, you must provide the goal. To achieve that goal you give people freedom within a framework.

This approach gives people a chance to find a solution based on their research and experience. They’re empowered to find a solution to a problem instead of you micromanaging the situation.

For example, your company has the goal to grow 10% next year. It would be micromanaging to tell your employees how exactly you want that to be achieved.

Don’t do that.

Great leaders give their employees the goal of 10% and let them come to the table with ideas of how to achieve it. The framework often comes from the company core values and areas of expertise.

Working outside the framework would be an employee that suggests drastically changing what a company does and who its target market is.

Working within the framework is when an employee makes note of the company’s services and the target market’s needs and provides an idea for a new service that fits both criteria.

3. Motivators

Motivation is one of the challenges for leaders. It’s about understanding people and yourself. You have to know what motivates people to succeed for the good of the company.

People have personal motivations and they will only ever act in accordance with them. They want to improve their own lives as individuals and for those they care about most. These motivations will then come into conflict with other motivations. They want to do what’s best for them, but they also feel motivation to not let others down.

Use these two motivations to get employees to perform their best.

Ask employees for their personal goals and put each employee in position to achieve those personal goals. The trick is making sure those personal goals align with company goals.

If any employee has the goal of earning a higher salary offer them a challenge. Let the employee lead a task force to develop a new product or service. If the board accepts the product and the program moves forward the employee will be rewarded.

It’s good for the employee and for the company.

Your employees don’t want to let each other down. Create team atmospheres. Internal competitions promote employees to not let each other down.

4. Relationship Builders

Relationships are a major part of leading. How you interact with followers and employees will affect the success of the company.

Getting along with your followers and employees doesn’t always mean having team building events like social hours or dinners. It can, but that alone doesn’t create quality work relationships.

Cliché advice about relationships is that communication is key.

Communication is a key in business.

As a leader, you need to communicate with your employees.

Great leaders know how to provide feedback and direction. Feedback needs to come in both positive and negative form.

People learn from their mistakes, but they also learn from what they do right. When something works well we repeat the formula.

Provide quality feedback, both good and bad, to allow your employees to learn how to improve.

5. Lead by Example

John Lasseter CEO

John Lasseter, CEO of Pixar, has many responsibilities, but he still gets involved in many aspects of projects. He leads by example. via Pixar

Leading by example is part of being a successful leader.

Some people prefer to lead by example while others are more hands on with teaching. We’re all on the spectrum of those two extremes.

Leading by example, though, is something you can’t avoid.

Think of how children learn from their parents. Words mean something, but actions mean more. From infancy we’re learning by the actions of our parents.

Throughout our lives we learn from leaders in our lives. We follow their actions.

Your job as the leader is to always improve yourself for the betterment of the company. Understand that people are following your lead.

If your employees see you treating others poorly or being lax with deadlines they will assume it’s all right for them to do the same.

In contrast, if you’re always the first to compliment someone and always ahead of schedule it leaves a good example for others to follow.

While leaders and managers might be defined differently they are still linked.

To be a good leader means creating an environment where your followers can succeed for themselves and for the company.

Each of the traits above is a framework for being a successful leader at a successful company.

It’s an exciting challenge and when you’re in a leadership position you have an opportunity to make a difference and create a lasting legacy for yourself.

The way that you communicate with your team will show how clearly you understand these principles. To improve the way you and your team communicate, contact Executive Speaking today.

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