Article by YEC
A leader is someone who, through their personality and skills, inspires others to be the best versions of themselves. While leaders may display different types of leadership styles, they all hope to achieve the same goal: motivating the team they lead to be better and to do better.
But what makes an excellent leader? To some, leadership comes naturally from an innate ability to take control of a situation and seek the best possible outcome for all parties involved. For others, it’s a special talent nurtured actively every day.
To learn more about the skills and abilities that make a great leader, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council to share their thoughts on the traits excellent leaders possess. Here’s what they said:
I have always found the best leaders to be those who know how to relate to everyone. Being able to connect with everyone in the room on some level is not the easiest thing to do, but it’s important because if people feel like they can relate to their leader, they will stick with them through thick and thin.
While being genuine, ethical, and charismatic are all great traits for a leader, the one trait the often goes overlooked is maturity. Making informed and enlightened decisions, giving advice that empowers others, and refusing to let emotions rule you are all signs of a mature leader. Maturity is a way of building trust. It comes not with age, but with mindfulness.
The ability to bounce back from tough situations is ideal for a leader because it provides the confidence and security the team may need to keep going. Being resilient also means coming up with new solutions to difficult problems, which can encourage the team to do the same.
A great leader knows how and when to take accountability for their team. Ideally, team members are accountable for what they are doing individually, but if a leader steps up and shares in that accountability when things maybe didn’t go so well, it helps the team improve for next time.
5. Thirst for Knowledge
As a manager or owner, it’s vital that you continue learning about your industry. The desire to learn can give you an advantage when growing your company and managing your staff.
Being able to handle change well makes any leader more efficient. I don’t really care if someone can handle something they have already tackled before; I care if they can handle something they have never experienced before.
Although it may sound paradoxical, insecurity is an essential leadership trait. While it’s important for a leader to make decisions and stand by them, it’s also important for a leader to second- or even third-guess their decisions when necessary. A level of insecurity allows a leader to give each decision the rigorous vetting it needs, and it encourages them to consult other team members before pulling the trigger.
Letting success get to your head is unattractive in a leader, whose attitude will rub off on their team. Being humble is vital to staying down to earth and being pleasurable company. When you recognize that everyone on your team is just as valuable to the company’s success as you are, you’ll encourage productivity and reap the benefits.
Simplicity helps you connect with your team at all levels. If you are overly complicated, sophisticated, or fancy, you might not work well with the team. I like to be simple yet highly visionary and approachable. It really works for my small team, as they can understand me easily and stay connected.
Ask your team where you can help. Some leaders do not want to get their hands dirty or do the hard work, which can create resentment. When you are willing to roll up your sleeves, you set an example of collaboration and initiative that fosters both trust and engagement.
11. Sense of Humor
Having a sense of humor helps you get through difficult situations and stressful times. It also helps build rapport and trust with your team, who see you for who you are instead of as an imposing boss. In everything from presentations to staff meetings, I use humor to put everyone at ease and create common ground.
Contrary to common misconception, introverts make very good leaders. They are reasonable and persistent, and their ability to carefully analyze every situation can produce incredible results. Also, introverts would rather listen than talk, which means they take into consideration various points of view and put more time into critical thinking.
Many say they would prefer to be realistic, but practicing positivity is good for business. If you’re a negative leader, your negativity can spread throughout your company like wildfire. Good leaders radiate positivity and build their team members up instead of tearing them down.
Enthusiastic leaders are great because they encourage a positive attitude, and that kind of behavior is contagious. Good energy puts everyone in a good mood so they’re prepared to work efficiently.
To be a good leader requires a combination of good traits; no one trait is enough on its own. However, above all else, I believe a leader should have stability in both emotion and passion. When the company encounters difficulties, the leader is the one the crowd looks to for guidance. Being stable does not mean being stubborn. Being stable means that the leader, who is the foundation of the company, is calm in any storm.
- Yifei Yin, Human Heritage Project
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.