5 Essential Qualities of an Effective Leader

Whether you are a manager or an aspiring manager-a manager of one or a manager of several-there are certain essential qualities you must possess in order to have a successful career in leadership.

1. Communication – The ability to communicate clearly and effectively is one of the most important career skills to master. Managers often need to convey information to direct reports or other key stakeholders within their organization. By honing your skills in this area, you will be able to attract, motivate and inspire those around you. Make it a point to touch base with members of your team. Consider implementing an open-door policy and encourage interaction.

2. Optimization – A successful leader has the ability to optimize resources for the greater good of the organization. As a leader of a team, it means leveraging the skills and talents of each individual toward a shared objective. But what happens when your team is faced with a challenging assignment? Utilizing stretch goals is one way to tackle this issue. “Stretch goals are opportunities for emerging leaders to move beyond their comfort zone,” says Dr. Mitchell Kusy. He and co-author Scott Allen, offer powerful leadership methods in their upcoming book, The Little Book of Leadership Development: 50 Ways to Bring Out the Leader in Every Employee.

3. Active Listening – Reliance on Blackberry’s and smartphones has come at a price-distraction. “A lot of managers act like they are listening [sic] but they are reading email or working on a project while you are trying to discuss something,” says Jenni Glatz, business developer at Express Employment Professionals. “When an employee comes to you turn off your computer screen and give them your full attention. If you are not able to at that point schedule a time to talk.”

4. Courage – A good manager is accountable and courageous-not the kind of person to throw a member of their team under the bus in a crisis. A leader “has the ability to consistently confront reality and create a game plan to deal with it,” says Bob Herbold, author of What’s Holding You Back: 10 Bold Steps that Define Gutsy Leaders.

5. Humility – Check your ego at the door on the way in. The ego-driven manager lacks the ability to genuinely appreciate and acknowledge the contributions of their team members. Gaining insight into your strengths and weaknesses will help you develop a humble heart. As Henry Kissinger said, “the task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.”