No matter what we do in life, we all have someone we consider The Boss. Wouldn't it be lovely if that person always demonstrated leadership qualities? Anyone can be called a Manager but that doesn't always mean that the person is a leader.
In my experience, employees tend to respect a title, but not always the person filling that role. Respect needs to be earned, and in a professional environment one's behavior should encompass certain traits in order for them to be considered a leader. I call them the five C's. Character - Building trust and being trustworthy
This sounds simple, right? Well, someone as simple as telling someone you will return a phone call but then not making the call can result in lost credibility before it's even established. Sad, but true. If you say you are going to do something, you need to follow through and do it. Some individuals who don't follow through then try to make excuses as to why they didn't instead of owning up to the situation. Taking accountability will provide you an opportunity at establishing trust. For example, if a customer is waiting for you to return a call, but you are waiting for an answer to give them, don't skip the call. Call the person and let them know you're still working on getting an answer for them and haven't forgotten about them. It's easy to say, "I didn't make the call because I didn't have the answer", but the customer doesn't know that. Calling them anyway will show the customer that you are honest and committed to following through. Commitment - Determination to see others succeed
One easy trait to help determine whether you have found the right leader is if they take an active interest in your growth and success. If your manager doesn't show interest in you, it may be an early warning sign that they are not the leader you need. Although it is invisible, commitment is a very real quality that you can cultivate if you are willing to focus on it. People who are committed to an employee or a project show that they are trustworthy, dedicated and eager to see the person or project succeed. Courage - The ability to make decisions amidst disapproval, and also desiring excellence over mediocrity
Just because someone has been put in a decision-making position doesn't mean they have the courage to act on it. Are they making decisions just to get through it, or because they've thought it through and are making the right decision? There's a big difference between the two. A good leader will find the courage to go against the grain when necessary to fight for what they believe in. They won't let things go with the flow, just because that's how it always been done, and instead will seek out excellence. Confidence - Making decisions with knowledge, understanding and self-awareness; passionate, competitive and focused on success
A leader knows exactly where they stand and exudes a balanced sense of confidence without being too modest and without boasting. I'm sure you've experienced individuals who have been referred to as "aggressive". Someone people are labeled as being aggressive simply because they've exhibited their confidence too assertively. Being self-aware will help any leader realize when they are being confident, but not overly so. Communication - Active listener, honest and candid, collaborator
A leader will demonstrate that they understand and empathize with someone they are working with. They take their colleague's concerns, values and priorities into account when making decisions and strive to build an organization in which people feel heard, empowered and cared about.
Although the examples outlined above have been explained in the context of a professional environment, each of these traits can directly relate to your personal life as well. What traits do you think are important for leaders to have in order to succeed?
Tyra Peluso is the Vice Chair of the Personal & Professional Development Committee. She works at the Public Utility Regulatory Authority.