When you hear the word ‘leader’, what person comes into your mind? Perhaps a brave statesman like Nelson Mandela. It could be an influential person from the past such as Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. It might even be the new Prime Minister – or the old one, depending on your electoral preference!

How about leaders who you know personally – your kids’ sports coach, a teacher who inspired you, your mum, your boss?

How about yourself? Are you the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word leader? What kind of a leader are you? Do you even think of yourself as a leader?

We are all called to be leaders at some time in our lives. Even as a parent, you are a leader to your children. In your job, you are a leader of work culture.

Leadership means making choices – often difficult at first but easier and more and more beneficial over time. Here are five traits that all leaders demonstrate, traits that guarantee great results.

1 Showing, not telling

We’ve all heard the sayings ‘actions speak louder than words’, and ‘don’t do what I say, do what I do’. If you know someone whose words, instructions or commands don’t match up with their behaviour, you can’t believe a word they say, can you? … and it’s safe to assume, you don’t trust them.

When you’re in a leadership role, you have to check in with what you are doing.

Does it reflect what you say?

Do you talk about harmony in the workplace but have a hissy fit every time a deadline is missed?

Do you insist on punctuality but turn up five minutes late on occasion?

…People are watching you – scary but true!

People might listen to what you say, but they will remember what you do.

2 Listen before talking

As a leader, it’s tempting to tell your people how things are done. But logically, if you need to tell others how things are done, it means they’re not being done! So, why not find out why?

Leaders who listen learn more and develop better strategies and tactics for the next move onwards. Listening to others also engenders trust with others. And when you think about it, we have two ears but only one tongue – maybe there’s a reason for that!

3 Planning

You may be a ‘go with the flow’ type of person. Being calm is great but letting things pass you by in the hope that it will all turn out right in the end is seriously unproductive!

Planning can be as micro-detailed as organising what flavour of sausages to order for the Christmas barbecue or as ‘big picture’ as who you want your business to merge with in ten years’ time.

What sort of planner are you?

Recognise your style and bring alongside you others who plan in different ways. Collaborate with them and introduce into your planning group those you intend to delegate to.

That way, you all buy into the same vision.

4 Forgiving and taking responsibility

Forgiveness is not often spoken about, but it is a vital trait for a leader to cultivate. Things are just a whole lot better if you can forgive others immediately. We’re all humans and therefore slip-ups will be made.

Forgiving doesn’t mean that due process shouldn’t be followed. If, say, OH&S requirements are not followed or production schedules not adhered to, there are serious consequences. However, taking responsibility for one’s actions or mistakes, especially if you are the leader, is not a sign of weakness but is liberating for all.

5 Showing you value others

Let’s be honest, work can be boring.

Your kids’ attitudes can wear you down.

There are days, aren’t there, where you just want to scream, ‘Stop, world, and let me off!’

A little appreciation will go a long way. Why not show the people you lead that you value them? It could be something as simple as a certificate with ‘Best Worker of the Week’ printed on it. Many businesses celebrate people’s birthdays with a cake at morning tea. The Christmas party could be a time where appreciation is shown in the form of a small gift.

If you cultivate these five traits, you can become an awesome leader!

For more useful tips and tricks to help move you and your team forward, towards a more successful future, join my free fortnightly news email.

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