The word “leader” is often thrown around with little understanding of what it actually means. The very concept of a leader
is an appealing one: strong, confident, supportive, charismatic...the list of desirable attributes is long.
This begs the question: what actually defines a great leader? How do you know an impactful leader when you see one? How do great leaders lead? These are all great questions, ones we will answer in the coming paragraphs.
Leaders help inspire, motivate, and guide people and projects to success. Countless leadership books have been written about what it means and how you can cultivate it.
The conclusion most come to is simple but powerful: Great leaders elevate their teams by challenging them, listening to them, and most importantly, treating them as equals.
On a related note, a great leader can recognize leadership qualities in others. They know what it takes to manage people, set a positive example, and course-correct after a project goes astray. They will notice when others demonstrate these skills, too.
Do not worry if this still feels a bit too abstract. To help cut through the noise, we have put together a list of 10 things all impactful leaders share.
Impactful leaders empower others to lead
The best, wisest leaders do not guard their position jealously, nor do they envy other leaders. Put in the context of an office setting, a great manager will not envy or undermine other managers in their organization.
Impactful leaders are all about cultivating the leadership potential in others.
Instead, they will encourage and empower their co-workers to rise up and take initiative. They understand that leaders are part of a greater whole, but they are not the
Additionally, if they assign responsibility, they confer the corresponding authority. Impactful leaders are all about cultivating the leadership potential in others.
Great leaders ask impactful questions
An excellent leader will recognize and implement the power of asking powerful questions. Leaders use precise language to communicate their thoughts clearly and effectively. They may ask their employees these questions hoping for an external solution.
Or, even more conducive to their development as a leader, they may turn inward and ask themselves the big questions. Being able to have this dialogue with themselves is important. Often, they will draft these questions privately or in their heads before going to their team members.
The other side of this coin is that they need to be open to feedback. They need to be ready to ask questions they actually want answered.
Excellent leaders know and trust their people
Impactful leaders take the time to get to know and trust their team. They recognize the importance of trust and they know that true teamwork is not possible without it.
Fostering and cultivating trust among their team members is of paramount importance to them. They understand that trust lends itself well to the longevity and stability of a team.
Anything less just is not effective enough.
Effective leaders have good boundaries
Establishing good boundaries is essential to a leader's success. It is a form of standing up for yourself. Similarly, impactful leaders also encourage their people to establish and enforce their own boundaries. They recognize that boundaries are not for others, but rather for themselves.
Impactful leaders are careful (but not stingy) with project budgets. They can defend their budgets against disgruntled executives or higher-ups who want them to cut costs in critical areas.
While everyone needs great boundaries, the cost of a leader's poor boundaries is likely way higher because they have people and projects who are actively depending on them. If a great leader does not have solid boundaries, then they have the self-awareness to know they need to set them.
Impactful leaders stay invested and informed
Impactful leaders are constantly staying abreast of what is happening both with the organization as a greater whole and with the project they are currently managing. They are invested enough to stay informed and informed enough to stay invested.
If they do not know something, they make finding out a priority. They take responsibility for making sure every aspect of the project is supported by accurate, updated information.
Great leaders honor and practice honesty
An honest leader is a reliable one. Great leaders will not just preach the importance of staying honest. They will practice unwavering honesty in their personal lives and in their work.
If you ask them a question, they will give you their honest thoughts. They will show you they respect you by telling you the truth and lifting you up even when the truth is discouraging or upsetting.
Excellent leaders embrace mistakes as growth opportunities
This is a huge one. Impactful leaders are never punitive when it comes to spotting and correcting mistakes.
In fact, an effective leader will view a mistake as a growth opportunity. They will be kind, clear, and encouraging as they point out the mistake and explain how it needs to be fixed.
There is no yelling. No disciplinary action. Sure, there may be some frustration, but that frustration will be channeled into empowering their team to learn and grow.
Impactful leaders look out for their team
Impactful leaders are not just loyal to their teams. They are fiercely protective of them and look out for their best interests. This includes defending them in meetings with superiors.
A great leader is invested in the success of every member of their team. Sometimes, looking out for their people means having tough conversations with them.
A great leader is invested in the success of every member of their team.
Other times, it means dissuading them from adopting an approach that would steer the project in the wrong direction. Everything these kinds of leaders do is done with the development and growth of their team members in mind.
Effective leaders embrace promoting from within
Great leaders embrace the power of promoting from within. They recognize the advantage that hiring internally can have, especially when the position they are looking to fill is managerial in some way, shape, or form.
They are of course open to hiring externally, but they always consider the possibility that a current employee could be a better fit for the open position.
Great leaders value and respect work/life balance
The “Work hard, play hard” philosophy is important and great leaders know it. They respect work/life balance and empower their team members to advocate for themselves, their capacities, and their need for balance in their lives.
Yes, productivity is important and key to a successful workplace. But so is taking time for yourself and recharging.
Good leaders may ask a lot of you, but they will always give you a lot in return. They value your time as much as you do and will never take advantage of your dedication and goodwill. It simply does not occur to them to use or abuse the trust of a employee going out of their way to help out.
Great leaders do all of these things. They are as invested in your personal and professional development as they are in seeing a project through to its completion. They want you to succeed and will go above and beyond to help you get to where you need and want to be.
The value of an impactful leader cannot be overstated. We hope this list helps empower you to look for leadership qualities in yourself and others.