If you have lived on this earth for longer than twenty minutes, chances are you have run into your fair share of awful leaders. You know the ones I’m talking about: the people that are constantly late, constantly yelling, and constantly running down those underneath them in an attempt to make themselves feel or look better.
Needless to say, you don’t want to be like them.
Instead, focus on some key traits that can make you an effective leader. Here are five to start with.
1. Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable
Basic humanity is a hard trait to come by these days, especially for people in power. Allow yourself to admit when you made a mistake, when you don’t know something, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you need it.
This is not the same as complaining or second-guessing yourself in public, and there’s no need to lose any dignity in the process. In fact, your vulnerability will endear yourself to others, earning their trust and admiration in the process.
2. Acknowledge Team Members’ Contribution
…Especially those who don’t seek the fame for themselves. The ones who like to brag about the things they do will get all the attention they deserve, but the ones who quietly go about their work, even going above and beyond, need to know that they are noticed as well. Encourage others to do the same.
3. Put Yourself In Their Shoes
One of the hardest things you will ever have to do as a leader is let yourself be honestly criticized. Performance reviews are pretty standard these days, but a true leader takes the feedback they are given to heart and acts on it, rather than simply believing that they can do no wrong.
What you’ll most likely notice when you begin to judge yourself through the eyes of your employees is a gap between who you think you are and who you actually are. Good leaders seek to close that gap as much as possible and connect with others in the process.
4. Allow Others to Disagree With You
It’s never fun when someone vocalizes their disagreement with you or the decisions you made. It can be uncomfortable, but even more than that, it can undermine your abilities as a leader.
Without allowing this feedback to be disrespectful, embrace this back-and-forth as much as you can. Encourage people to voice their opinions, consider their feedback, and then respond as honestly as possible. As long as they’re not doing it simply to take a stab at you, it’s very possible they may simply have a better idea than you.
5. Recruit the Right People, Not Necessarily the Best
You know that scene from the movie “Miracle” where Kurt Russel is organizing the crew that would eventually become the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team? He was reprimanded by his superiors for refusing to consider the best players, choosing instead to find the ones that were closest to his style.
And he ended up beating the best team in the world because of it.
Anybody can look at a resume and be blown away by a list of accomplishments, but it takes a real leader to sift through the chaff and find the gem that simply wasn’t a right fit everywhere else. In the interview process, ask questions that probe at their values and work philosophy. If they align with your own, chances are you’ve got a great fit.