In a Gallup survey of more than 7,200 adults, nearly half of the participants admitted they have left a job to get away from their manager. It’s an unsettling statistic and one that really begins to scratch the surface of the impact that leadership—good and bad—can have on a company, its people, and overall success.
Poor leadership can be an incredibly destructive force, and, as some studies have suggested, may even be contagious. From productivity and engagement levels to how they react in challenging situations, employees often take behavioral cues from their leaders. So, it’s imperative for people in leadership roles to be aware of the message they’re sending to their teams.
Great leadership has the power to unite, energize, and propel a company forward. The most successful leaders are the ones who take this tremendous responsibility seriously. And though the characteristics that make a great leader may vary from person to person, there are a few universal truths that always ring true.
Driven by passion.
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” – Steve Jobs
The most successful leaders are motivated by something much deeper than simply earning a paycheck or getting the next promotion. Passion is a powerful force that drives leadership-minded people to succeed. They truly believe in what they are doing and feel it is their personal mission to achieve their goals. Every endeavor is a personal investment of their time and commitment—a responsibility taken lightly.
Never finished learning.
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.” – Albert Einstein
Great leaders also have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and will seek out learning opportunities throughout their careers that will help hone their skills and add to their arsenal of leadership tools. Whether those learning opportunities come from resounding success or cataclysmic failure, leaders are adept at taking a lesson to heart and applying it to future endeavors.
Integrity is everything.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey
Trust is essential to effective leadership, and you don’t earn trust without integrity. From following through on your commitments, no matter how small to standing up in the face of adversity on behalf of the people you lead, integrity is built on actions. There’s no place for a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. Integrity means setting the example others will follow.
People are your greatest asset.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
Just as important as growing and developing their own skills and expertise, great leaders constantly advocate on behalf of the people they lead. Leaders know they can only get so far on their own without a dedicated team ready to follow them into battle. Empower the people around you to achieve and you’ll be rewarded with their unwavering commitment to success.
You have to be courageous.
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” – Helen Keller
Great leaders aren’t afraid to ask for what they want and won’t easily back down from a challenge. Courage is an important part of leading a team that extends far beyond confidently charging toward a goal. It also plays an important psychological role among their teams. People will look toward their leaders for cues on how to act and react in difficult situations. A leader who is projecting confidence and courage will instill those same characteristics into the people they lead.
Think about some of the most important leaders in your life and how they expressed these truths in their daily lives. How did their passion affect your performance? How did their integrity inspire the kind of leader you have become today? And what are some of the most courageous actions they’ve taken in order to succeed? The impact a great leader makes on the people around them has a ripple effect that extends beyond their immediate surroundings. In the comments section below, tell us about an influential leader who helped define your own leadership style and which of the truths listed above are most important to you.