– by Beau Peters
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work.
There are many different reasons that people find themselves in leadership positions. You may have been unexpectedly called on to step into a leadership role. You may have been born a leader of men. You may even be currently serving in the rank and file with ambitions to one day lead the pack.
Regardless of your particular scenario, it can be helpful to take some time to break down, analyze, and study just what it is that takes a leader from good to great. While there are obvious considerations, such as taking charge and being decisive, there are many other aspects to truly great leadership that often go unnoticed.
Here are some of the simplest yet most profound aspects, traits, and skills that go into being a great leader.
A Great Leader Is Self-Aware
A leader that is aware of their current strengths and weaknesses will always have an advantage as they lead. They are able to wisely avoid charging into scenarios that they’re ill-prepared for. They’re smart enough not to micromanage others without a good reason. They are knowledgeable enough about their own inner-workings to avoid letting people push their hot buttons.
A great leader pursues activities such as participating in regular meditation, conducting self-evaluations, and even receiving coaching. This helps them become more self-aware and, by extension, a greater leader in the process.
A Great Leader Is Patient and Present
Sometimes being a great leader requires focusing on the needs of the present rather than fixating on and rushing towards the potential of the future. For instance, when Michael R. Nettles became the Executive Vice-President, Chief Operating and Growth Officer at Papa John’s International, he didn’t do so overnight or by cutting in line.
Nettles had arrived at the company a couple of years earlier and had spent the interim making “strong contributions” to the company’s digital and mobile customer experience. In other words, his focus on providing quality results in the present clearly demonstrated his leadership abilities, leading to his promotion in the future.
A Great Leader Uses Adversity as Motivation
As a leader, you’ll likely face opposition and even adversity at times. Sometimes this will simply be competition for a job or a promotion. At other times it can come from deeper places, such as racism, sexism, or ageism.
When you face adversity, it can be tempting to react with hate and anger. However, both of those are crippling, destructive behaviors that hurt you more than anyone else. Instead, use adversity to fuel your passions. Let it motivate you to strive for greater heights.
For instance, if you’re a woman entrepreneur, you will likely have a difficult time accessing funding, finding support, and overcoming gender inequalities in the workplace. However, if you use that struggle to motivate yourself, you can find alternative resources that allow you to overcome and ultimately thrive in spite of the challenges that others create for you.
A Great Leader Looks Up to Others
One of the cruxes of good leadership is avoiding the thought that you are above reproach, correction, or even instruction. Even if you’re at the top of your industry, you can always learn more from others. That’s why both networking and mentorships are key aspects to becoming an effective executive.
Rubbing shoulders with industry elites can always provide you with new insights and innovation. In addition, a mentor can help direct you towards effective solutions and can help to identify flaws and weaknesses. They can even provide instrumental advice and encouragement when you’re dealing with something like imposter syndrome or the feeling that you’re ill-equipped for a situation you’re facing.
A Great Leader Knows Their Limits
Finally, a great leader knows that even the most impressive executives have their limits. Executive burnout is a real thing and it is spurred on by things like lack of sleep, excessive time spent on the job, too much sitting or traveling, loneliness, and a general lack of work-life balance. These habits can lead to severe struggles with health such as depression, anxiety, and even diabetes or cardiovascular concerns.
One of the critical aspects that take a leader from good to great is the ability to know their limits. If you can slow down, assess your responsibilities, work smarter instead of harder, delegate what you can, and provide ample time to rest and recuperate, you’ll be able to effectively and productively lead when the time comes.
Growing into Leadership
While these traits are just a handful of items, they are essential ingredients to becoming a great leader. Perhaps the most important thing of all, though, is maintaining the ability to continually grow and learn throughout your leadership journey.
If you internally consider yourself to have “arrived” or you develop a “chip on your shoulder” mentality, it can cripple your ability to thrive. Instead, strive to maintain a perpetual state of improvement, no matter what specific item from the above list you’re addressing at any one moment. This will enable you to always put your best foot and lead from a place of confidence, humbleness, and inner strength.