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Born leaders are hard to find, but when you come across one, you know it immediately.
While leaders’ personalities are naturally varied, there tends to be some reoccurring behaviours and traits that mark them out as born leaders.
If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to work with, or for, a born leader then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Working around these types is a free lesson in how to handle problems, treat others and get results from staff. It’s bound to rub off on you.
I thought I would spend some time today discussing the top five traits of a born leader.
There are many more traits that I could have added to the list, but here are the most important qualities:
1. They listen more than they talk
It takes a lot of confidence to sit back and listen, while others talk.
A lot of people may act like they’re listening but they’re often just waiting for their moment to jump in.
Great leaders often don’t say as much as those around them.
They’re highly observant types who like to read the room and listen to what other people are contributing.
That’s because they’re naturally curious people, which leads me to the next point…
2. They ask stupid questions
The great irony of asking stupid questions is that you often end up smarter than everyone else because you find out so much more.
What do I mean by stupid questions? Simple.
They’re the questions that most people are too afraid to ask because they’re worried they’ll look silly.
Natural leaders have the intelligence, and confidence, to override any of these concerns.
They know in order to learn more or get to the truth of the matter they need to ask ‘stupid’ questions.
It’s impossible to know everything, no matter how smart you are, and born leaders know this and don’t let it stop them from learning more.
3. They`re excellent communicators
There’s a lot of talk these days about the importance of ‘communication skills’ but what exactly does this mean?
Sure, you need to be polite and respectful, but in my mind good communication skills go beyond well-written memos and staff feedback.
A truly good communicator is a chameleon.
What do I mean by that?
They know how to vary their communications style, whether it be direct or indirect, according to the person they’re dealing with.
Some staff appreciate an up-front, straight-talking approach, while others prefer a softly, softly style when dealing with them.
A good communicator knows this and can adjust their communication, voice and body language to get the best out of the person they’re talking to.
4. They take responsibility for their actions
A common mistake I see bosses make time and time again is taking responsibility for the wins, but not the failures.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Staff and stakeholders aren’t looking for perfection.
They’re after honesty and claiming the successes, but sticking your head in the sand when things go wrong, is the quickest way to lose people’s respect.
A true leader owns their mistakes by identifying what went wrong and communicating this effectively with staff.
They then outline a plan of how things will be done differently next time.
5. They have a high EQ
I’ve said it many times in the past and I’ll say it again now: a high EQ is underrated.
We tend to focus on excellence and book smarts, without realizing that it’s impossible to achieve long-term success without emotional intelligence.
You need a high EQ in order to respond calmly to irrational people or situations, manage stress and decipher other people’s behaviour.
You also need it in order to reflect honestly on your own behaviour and see where you can do things differently, as well as analyse your own motivations.
All of the above skills are important, but I would rate a high EQ as probably top of the list.
Many of the faults and failures of poor leaders come down t a lack of emotional intelligence, and it’s a shame that this is a skill that isn’t more highly valued.
Because that is exactly what it represents: value.
A high EQ flows into all parts of the organisation and that, in the end, is great for a business’s bottom line.
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