5 ways to spot a great leader

Exactly what is it that sets apart great leaders from poor ones? Are there certain characteristics that make the difference in a leader’s effectiveness? According to Highland Consulting Group CEO Roxi Hewertson, who specializes in leadership development, there are. “Your attitudes and behaviors…are the biggest differentiators between great leaders and failing leaders.”

Here are the five behaviors and attitudes that distinguish great leaders from poor ones:

Great leaders

  1. Understand their own emotions. Emotional self-awareness is essential for great leadership. Great leaders know how to manage themselves and others in times of crisis and conflict.
  2. Know their limits. The best leaders understand they can’t know and do everything. Instead, they leverage the skills they are good at and surround themselves with staff who posses complementary skills.
  3. Have strong self-worth. Confidence is a product of high self-worth, while arrogance comes from fear or a sense of entitlement. The best leaders continuously test themselves, stretching, growing and learning.
  4. Think positive. Great leaders view the world through the lens of abundance as opposed to scarcity, focusing on solutions, new ideas and silver linings. They may change course, but they never give up.
  5. Value the greater good. Because of their strong confidence and sense of self-worth, great leaders have low ego needs and can therefore work for something greater than themselves. Their motto is “win/win or no deal.”

Poor leaders

  1. Dismiss others. Poor leaders don’t pick up on other people’s signals, showing a fundamental lack of empathy. They drive away staff members, who feel they are not trusted, heard, understood or respected.
  2. Miss important cues. These leaders don’t understand the intricacies of organizational norms, hierarchies and politics. Often, they are leaders in name only.
  3. Blame others. Poor leaders need to make someone wrong in order to feel right. You’ll rarely hear these leaders talk about how they plan to learn and grow from their mistakes.
  4. Avoid conflict. Poor leaders fail to provide constructive criticism and attempt to dodge difficult work relationships. No team can be function well without the ability to resolve conflict.
  5. Isolate themselves and their teams. These leaders are lone wolves who think only they or their teams are capable of doing a job. They believe that they are in it alone, and that no one understands them.

As Hewertson says, “Improving one’s emotional intelligence is a life-long journey—one that great leaders relish.”

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