“To be a leader, you have to make people want to follow you, and nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t know where he’s going”Joe Namath
My job working at the gym shaped my college experience. Every week for four years, I worked the non-glamorous job of checking people in, washing towels, and cleaning machines. Yet, it will forever be one of my favorite jobs. I made a lot of awesome friends and was able to do things that challenged and improved my leadership skills. I had the opportunity to impact the organization by helping with our hiring process. My job wouldn’t have been so impactful without my manager. Our manager was not only invested in making the gym an excellent environment for patrons but cared about us—the students and was happy to be a resource for our future after college.
Think of a leader or manager you have or have had that you admire. Chances are, they embody these five characteristics.
A great manager has confidence in themselves to make hard and fast decisions while being objective. They don’t second guess themselves and can remove “gut feelings” and emotions when needed. Successful managers can also be assertive when necessary. By being confident in themselves, they can inspire and motivate others in a “lead by example” fashion. When your team needs to make a decision quickly, having a confident leader makes a difference.
Confidence and accountability go hand in hand. When a leader is confident, they have no problems admitting when a fault is theirs. Leaders who possess responsibility can communicate honestly and transparently. If a project they led lacked direction or provided unclear expectations, they are quick to share their mistakes and take accountability for them. This creates an environment that makes everyone feel that they can also take ownership of their own mistakes. It starts from the top, and with an accountable leader, chances are, everyone is going to be more transparent and honest.
An accountable leader is also a communicative one, and communication is one way you can distinguish a good manager from a great manager. A great manager can build relationships, and not just give feedback, but actionable feedback—by providing specific guidelines on how you can improve. Ever been completely blindsided in a performance review after getting little to no input throughout the year? A great leader wouldn’t let that happen by consistently making time for one-on-one’s and making themselves available.
Empathy and Compassion
Chances are, an employee can build great relationships and also possess the skill of empathy and compassion. While employers don’t tend to focus on “soft skills,” these are what make a manager great. Just because someone is excellent in their role doesn’t make them qualified to be a leader. A manager with empathy and compassion has their employees’ backs in every situation, encourages time off, watches for signs of burnout, and builds trust. They are also active listeners, taking in the feedback of their employees. They possess compassion and high levels of empathy and humility, understanding that people have lives and challenges outside of the office, and it can be difficult to separate themselves from personal challenges while at work. An empathetic and compassionate manager will be rewarded with hard-working employees when they know they have the trust of their boss.
Interest in Improvement
Lastly, a great leader is interested in the employee’s improvement at the forefront of their minds. They don’t see their employees as just employees, but people who are working hard to advance their careers. This comes with providing actionable feedback, but also embracing new technology that can help their employees, investing in their self-growth, and lastly but perhaps most importantly—giving their employees the tools they need to succeed. A great manager builds up an employee and encourages growth.
If you want your employees to do their best work, you have to lead by example and promote a healthy and motivating workplace environment. If you are looking for more ways to be the best leader you can be, check out these articles: