Effective leadership is imperative to maintaining a healthy workplace culture, where teams are productive, loyal, motivated, and satisfied with their job. Poor quality leaders who lack people management skills, communicate poorly, and don’t show respect for their team can impact negatively on staff retention rates, see teams produce poor quality work and exacerbate workplace conflict.
In this blog post we explore what it means to be a good leader, why recruiting suitable candidates is important and how training comes into play when developing successful leaders.
Identifying effective leadership qualities
Recognising, supporting, and nurturing people who demonstrate quality leadership attributes is an important part of establishing a well-respected, effective leadership team. Some characteristics good leaders show include:
- Cope well under pressure
- Ability to put their emotions aside and view a situation for what it is
- Use positive, motivational language
- Creates a calm environment
- Reduce and effectively manage stressful situations for others around them
- Produce high performing teams
- Create a sense of trust, respect, understanding and fairness with others
- Treats everyone the same
- Effective and skilled communicator
Red flags of an ineffective leader
We have all fallen under the management of someone who is an ineffective, poor leader and not suited to managing people. When we are building a strong, effective and supportive leadership team it is important to recognise the traits we do not want in our leaders. Concerning qualities to be mindful of include:
- Over confidence
- Unpredictable behaviour
- Self-interested and prioritising self at the expense of others
- Limited technical competence (if lacking in the above effective characteristics)
- Poor communication skills including not listening to others
- Lack of self-reflection
- Limited emotional intelligence
- Demonstrates bias
Recruiting quality, skilful leaders
Establishing a quality leadership team starts with recruiting. We need to ensure we hire good leaders from the get-go. It can be quick and easy to promote someone within the organisation to a leadership role. In this instance it is imperative we do not promote people who do not possess the skills to be a high performing, effective manager because it will create problems down the track and become resource heavy managing issues resulting from poor management.
It is often the case that people who are charismatic and impress at interview stage do not possess the traits of an effective leader, but those of an ineffective, over-confident leader. This is why it is important our recruitment strategy isn’t solely dependent on interviews. In fact, we need to place less importance on the interview itself and more emphasis on other forms of assessing suitability, such as psychometric testing, personality testing, past performance and 360 reviews (in the case of existing applicants). Other key points to factor in when recruiting for a management position include:
- What characteristics does the applicant possess?
- What areas need improvement?
- Are they coachable?
- How do they compare to other applicants?
People can’t always learn or be trained to become better leaders. Those who are seemingly ‘untrainable’ will present as not wanting to change, show a lack of personal insight and reflection, and a lack of willingness to change. These are the type of leaders who should not have been appointed to management roles.
The basis of leadership training should focus on developing effective communication skills and emotional intelligence. This helps leaders show empathy, understand where others are coming from and have the ability to interact well with others. Another important skill many leaders need coaching on, is effectively delivering constructive feedback to staff. Good communication skills and the ability to read and respond to other people’s body language is an important first step to providing feedback to others.
A suitable, respected, and impactful leader is invaluable to any team. They create the foundation for a successful, happy, productive, and motivated work environment. We can be subconsciously bias in situations such as recruitment, however we need to be aware of this, place it aside and evaluate all available aspects of the candidate to enable us to appoint the appropriate person.