In today’s business world, great leadership is often hard to come by. Having locations and clients on nearly every continent has become the norm. Even mom-and-pop shops in rural communities have access to global business partners and customers, creating a need for diverse leadership skills that will propel your organization to new heights and set you up for career advancement.
What is the Definition of Leadership?
In simplest terms, leadership can be thought of as the process by which we influence others. In business, effective leaders typically display common leadership skills in different areas as they drive the mission of the organization forward. Often, leadership can best be understood by considering what makes a great leader and knowing the best traits of a leader. Let’s look at a few essential characteristics of leaders.
Personal Traits of a Leader
Even though there is no right way to lead, there are several traits of a leader that are common among those who are successful. The following characteristics should always be considered when developing your personal leadership skills.
As a leader, it is important to be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Take some time to get to know if you adapt well to a fast-changing business environment, if you like to drive innovation, if you are resilient after a setback, and if your communication style is effective. Leading yourself well means you are committed to consistent self-development, both with character traits you need to strengthen, as well as business knowledge and skills you need to acquire or improve. Ottawa University’s Master of Arts in Leadership and MBA are both excellent ways to master the essential leadership skills required in today’s global marketplace. We even offer an MBA in Leadership Development!
Emotional intelligence (EI) is both inward and outward-facing. When focusing on yourself, EI pertains to knowing and managing your emotions, as well as motivating yourself. Emotional intelligence is a critical leadership skill because it shows you are aware of how your behavior impacts others, as well as how others affect your emotional state. Increasing your emotional intelligence helps you actively listen, model empathy, and showcase authenticity. It also fosters cultural sensitivity, the ability to read situations and people, and flexibility in your communication style.
You are the primary HR manual your team will read. Developing and displaying a high level of professionalism will make it easier to lead because your team will follow your example. Bolstering your professionalism with social interactions, time management, responsive and appropriate communication, attire, organization, and respect for authority will help you become known as a leader of integrity.
Qualities of a Leader
In addition to being familiar with the definition of leadership and the personal traits of a leader, the most critical component of leadership is how you lead others. This can be learned by studying the top qualities of a leader as specified below.
Leading others starts with building a high-performance team. That can include hiring the right people for the job, as well as training and development for current employees to give them the knowledge and skills to succeed. A highly effective leader successfully brings together a diverse workforce by learning the strengths, expectations, and potential of each team member and maximizing those for best performance, both individually and collectively. By coaching and developing the team, setting clear expectations, acknowledging accomplishments, and communicating frequently and effectively, strong leaders will retain their best talent and achieve greater corporate and personal loyalty.
The beauty of servant leadership is that it allows you to maintain authority without having to utilize the heavy-handed power of your position. When employees see you as being in the trenches with them, identifying with their needs and challenges, and tying your success to theirs, they are going to follow where you lead. They see that you value their differences, encourage and motivate them, and listen to their ideas. It’s also clear that you will lead them through conflict and failure to better performance, share the glory, and accept responsibility. Find out more about the characteristics of a servant leader.
Effective leaders regularly engage with those above and around them to lead collaboratively. They are also innovative in their approaches to problems and business goals, looking at things from all angles to provide holistic solutions that may not fit the norm. Just as importantly, strong leaders foster engagement and innovation in their team members, setting processes in place to share and implement their best ideas. These leaders will not be afraid to delegate tasks to trusted employees, ask for feedback, and leverage networks to creatively accomplish common goals. By doing this, great leaders demonstrate that they are not a one-person show but that they are part of a highly valued team.
Strategic plans have traditionally been formulated for one, five, and ten-year goals, along with methods and milestones to achieve them. But today’s business climate is fast-moving and unpredictable. As a result, effective leaders must continuously assess the strategic goals and methods of the company and be prepared to adjust them as needed to capture new opportunities, stay ahead of the competition, or address sudden challenges. Because they are often closer to the front lines of the business than senior management, mid-level leaders are increasingly trusted with decision-making powers for executing these adjustments. These leaders will form networks inside and outside the company to accomplish strategic change for advancing the mission and vision of their organization. Graduates of our MBA in Strategic Innovation are prepared to enhance and strengthen the organizations they lead.
The view shifts here from managing the team to the greater mission and vision of the company. Of all the leadership skills for driving results in today’s business environment, having a global mindset and the ability to manage organizational complexity are highly sought by employers. Not only must you understand the business practices of other countries or locations and know how to appropriately operate across diverse cultures, but you must also be on the lookout for emerging global opportunities. The effective leader will leverage the complexities of the global business to create a competitive advantage. Often decisions must be made in a moving-parts environment, and a strong leader will be comfortable calling the shots utilizing situational analysis. Leaders with a global mindset have a big-picture view with a road map mentality for implementing ideas. They are confident, flexible problem solvers who aren’t easily rattled.
Online Masters in Leadership
These essential skills and traits of a leader must be continually cultivated, whether on the job or in the classroom. Ottawa University’s Master of Arts in Leadership will set you on the trajectory for highly effective leadership. Additionally, our MBA in Leadership Development and MBA in Strategic Innovation are both great options for career advancement. Whether you complete one of Ottawa University's accelerated online degrees or attend one of our campuses in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix, we are here to help you lead the way up the corporate ladder.
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