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Leading in these times of change calls for a particular skillset. 5 characteristics of a great leader

Written by Staff Writer

November 9, 2020

By Basetsana Magano

The definition of what constitutes a great leader is constantly evolving and reflects the ethos of a particular culture at a particular time.  New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, attributes the success of her leadership style in containing the COVID-19 epidemic to, amongst other things, “kindness”.  This is echoed in the value ascribed to empathetic leadership across the globe, in countries, organisations, communities and the micro family unit; empathy creates a positive, productive culture where people feel valued and are motivated to perform and achieve common goals and targets.  We look at 5 characteristics of a great leader to watch out for.

Promoting a company culture of growth and learning

An organisational culture which supports employee growth as opposed to being purely profit-driven, will equate to optimum employee performance. Investing in their continuous development and career pathing ensures your team will be driven to achieve and excel as opposed to merely earning a salary.

It is important to note that great organisations are high performing, and able to find the balance between people, profit and planet.

Great employers encourage a culture of learning, and allow employees to take calculated risks. This is not to say that mistakes have no consequences, but agile leaders acknowledge the importance of failing forward.

Support of performance-based output

We are seeing a dramatic shift away from hours-based output. Great employers will get more out of their employees if they are focused on performance, and not on ‘watching the clock’. This translates into the equation of input versus impact – how much time does someone need to put in, in order to achieve the necessary impact or goals?

Effective communication

Communication is the glue for performance. In order for employees to be effective, they need to understand what is being done by management, as well as how and most importantly, why. ‘What do we want to achieve, by who, by when – and why is this important?’ are crucial to ensure buy-in from all staff members.

Great employers know how to create a line of sight for employees, in other words, how to connect individual employee actions to the bigger picture. This creates transparency, as well as motivation when employees are able to see how their performance influences the team. In the same way, great leaders provide regular feedback on progress made and celebrate achievements with the team.

Regular check-ins

Astute leaders will ensure regular check-in meetings and career discussions are held with team members and then use this feedback to continuously improve the employee experience and ensure transparency with regard to positions or promotions for which they have been earmarked.

 Active promotion of diversity

Authentic diversity is not a numbers game. Great employers have a holistic view of diversity and create a conducive, open-minded culture where different viewpoints are valued and everyone feels that they can contribute. This in turn plays a key role in staff retention, where employees feel that their opinions are respected and that they offer valuable contributions, thereby enriching the team.

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