Plenty of people strive to reach leadership positions in their respective businesses, but that doesn’t necessarily make them good leaders. Ambition, talent and good ideas are all important traits of managers, but there are other skills that make one a truly exemplary leader. Here are five traits that will take you to the next level:

  • Lead by example. Leaders must model the way. Leading by example is what truly inspires others to take action. We’ve all had that supervisor who is great at dishing out advice and critiques but doesn’t work by the same standards. Is that somebody you will follow, or is that someone you will work to get away from? Until you are ready to talk the talk and walk the walk, you will never get your team to follow.
  • Share the vision. It is not enough for leaders to understand where their organization is headed; their followers must see it also. This is all about the big picture. Your team may be good at day-to-day tasks, but until they see the ultimate destination, they will never contribute those out-of-the-box ideas or energy necessary to take the team to the next level.
  • Process challenge. Good leaders are continuously searching for new opportunities to better a process. One of the most discouraging things for a team member is to do the same things over and over. The “we’ve always done it this way” scenario leads to apathy and stagnation. Look for new ways to accomplish goals; seek the input of your team. Unless you try, you’ll never know if there is a better way.
  • Promote action. Nothing truly great occurs without the active involvement and support of many people. Encourage your team to come up with new ideas, new processes, new practices. Think how much better a project can be with many minds and perspectives being involved. This also lets your team feel valued.
  • Aim for the heart. Leaders lead the way by encouraging, promoting and cheering on those around us. Think about your past jobs. Who got more out of their employees – the one who encouraged and motivated, or the one who criticized and complained? Positive feedback is always motivating, while negative feedback can often turn a potential star into a former employee.

What traits have you found to be the most important in leaders? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet us using the hashtag #mcgblog.

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