9 Essential Leadership Traits
When we think of project managers, we think of team leaders accountable for delivering the project within the allocated deadline and budget set by the client. In reality, it takes a lot to become a project manager. Achieving a leadership position comes with massive responsibility and requires certain character qualities.
Leaders often require at least some training in regards to soft skills. One can have the potential to become a great leader, but if he or she doesn’t have the right personality, they won’t be able to make it far on just raw talent.
Here are the skills that (in my point of view) are essential to be a good—and eventually great—leader:
The ability to interact with multiple people at different levels is a skill that draws a line between ordinary and great leadership. A project leader must call for clear communication regarding the project’s expectations and ultimate objectives. Therefore, he or she must be able to progressively align and utilize influence to achieve project success.
A significant part of communication involves listening—specifically active listening. Consequently, leaders should form a steady flow of communication between themselves and their team members, either through an open-door policy or everyday discussions with employees. Also, they should make themselves available often to deliberate issues and concerns with employees.
Being quick and effective with making decisions is a topmost attribute of a leader. These front-runners are empowered to make endless decisions to keep their pre-defined goals on track. One wrong mistake can jeopardize the entire project; therefore, a leader should be competent enough to think swiftly and respond decisively. The fear of failure also shouldn’t introduce decision paralysis. As a leader, calculated risk-taking is very important because the decision will help you either succeed or learn.
A smart leader must have a clear vision—and the competence to articulate it. Visionaries must deal with productive change and have the ability to draw new frameworks. A leader is someone who lifts us up, provides us with an effective vision and the spirit to change. Visionary leaders empower their people and enable them to experience their own vision. On top of that, they provide their team with excellent prospects in creating and exploring their own vision—and envisioning their future as a productive part of the organization. Likewise, a project manager articulates the vision to his or her team members and leads from the front.
An efficient grip on group progression is fundamental. It requires keeping a team together and motivating each member to execute their best skills. When building up a group, it’s important to foresee and understand the contentions and contradictions that frequently happen. As a pioneer, you must be capable of intervening and ensuring that all team members progress toward the ultimate goals.
Strong leaders are aware that a business cannot have a motivated team unless each member is enthused. Motivation can be demonstrated with a positive attitude (even in adverse situations) and creating a driven and relaxed work environment. Even very small incentives (such as offering the team treats like cupcakes) can truly make a difference. Team members are more likely to work hard if they feel appreciated and satisfied with their work. Positivity is encouraged by providing your team with inspiration and acknowledgement of its work—and commending each member for both their individual and collective efforts. A positive leader builds a self-driven team that can have a significant impact on your organization.
To be a successful leader, you must learn to delegate. Modifying your brand, vision and values is vital in creating a well-organized and finely tuned business. If you are unable to trust your team members and follow through with their ideas and values, it becomes extremely challenging to move forward. Trusting your team is a prominent sign of strengthened leadership. The leader must delegate tasks based on skill sets, and assign work to the right departments.
Without this skill, your team will suffer and productivity will decline. When it comes to delegation, determining (and taking advantage of) the strengths of your team is key. For this, you need to know every team member and explore their strengths and weaknesses. As soon as you are able to understand them, you can assign work accordingly to achieve the best outcomes. Allocating work this way ensures that the tasks will be performed with great enthusiasm. Not only will it boost team productivity, it will also give members confidence that you trust their abilities. Also, it will save you significant time and allow you to focus on tasks that cannot be delegated.
Even when resolutely founded, a project can still fail. Unforeseen setbacks and delays often occur in project management, and at this point, a leader can either make or break the project. They should never panic with problems; instead, view them as intellectual challenges. This unique and valuable trait needs to be balanced with patience and stamina. Out of uncertain chaos and change, leaders rise up and articulate a new strategy for the future that pulls the project together.
Employees should feel comfortable coming to their leader with any questions or concerns. As a leader, it’s crucial to demonstrate your integrity—and employees trust leaders they truly respect. By being open-minded and honest, you will motivate a similar sort of morality in your team members. The ability to apologize, keep confidentiality, show consistent behaviour with employees, be empathetic and have integrity all contribute to solid character.
In 18-plus years of professional experience, I have worked for leaders, managers and accidental occupants of managerial and leadership positions. When I analyzed my performance with these leaders, I must say that I was far better while working with leaders who had high emotional intelligence.
Think outside the box
As a leader, you must think outside the box. For this, you need to learn and apply non-traditional solutions—or approach problems in non-traditional ways. Your team members will be impressed and inspired. Here, critical thinking, conceptualizing and cognitive flexibility is crucial.
Being a great leader doesn’t happen overnight; it takes patience, willpower and the drive to prosper!