Inspiring. Proactive. Visionary. Leaders mobilize people and lead them towards a common goal. They influence their field. They impact society. They change the world. Here are six habits of a good leader that may surprise you.
1. Doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Too often we have this preconception that a person in a position of leadership should be solemn and irreproachable. Yet a good leader knows how to be self-deprecating; he doesn’t think too highly of himself and he recognizes that he is a fallible human. He gives himself the right to try, fail and learn from his mistakes. He knows that life is a learning process and doesn’t expect to be perfect the first time. If he stumbles, rather than being knocked down, he laughs a lot, then rolls up his sleeves and moves on. This attitude makes him teachable and likely to make significant progress, more so than trying to cover up his shortcomings. This mark of humility is not a sign of weakness, but rather a demonstration of strength of character.
2. Takes the time to be creative.
Having a hobby can seem like a waste of time when you have so many responsibilities and are already busy. However, a creative hobby is a guarantee of efficiency. Whether it is strumming a guitar, refinishing an old piece of furniture or taking photographs, a good leader knows that it allows him to recharge his batteries, and later, to return to his work with clear ideas. In addition to providing mental rest, a creative hobby activates the right side of the brain and brings our thoughts into a wave of spontaneity. This is often where the best ideas are born! Just squeezing a 15-minute break between two tasks can make a difference. A good leader does not hesitate to stop and unleash his creativity, because he knows it contributes to his performance.
3. Has a dream that goes beyond personal ambitions.
It is questionable whether a person who seeks to do harm or who is motivated only by his ego can be considered a true leader. On the contrary, the ambition of a good leader is not to reach the top for his own glory, but to make a difference around him. Motivated by values of generosity, fairness, justice and compassion, this broad vision produces in the leader a powerful motivation and an even greater dedication to work, in addition to giving meaning to his efforts. It can be as varied as improving the education system, making a service accessible to the most disadvantaged, or even countering racism. Whatever the cause that is close to his heart, his leadership benefits many and transforms the company in the long run.
4. Steps out of his comfort zone.
Why is this famous comfort zone so difficult to break? It’s because it allows us to put in minimal effort to function well and it saves us from the stress of the unknown. In a familiar routine, we can expect consistent performance, but trying new things forces us to be alert, perform at our best, and achieve a higher level of performance. A good leader is not content with the status quo. He doesn’t hesitate to take on new challenges, take regular risks and explore unfamiliar areas, even if that makes him uncomfortable. This habit develops in him a better capacity to manage the unforeseen and cope with changes, in addition to multiplying the possibilities in front of him.
5. Listens to the passions of his team.
We all know that passion is a determining factor in a person’s effectiveness.
No matter what you decide to do, it must be something that you are passionate about because otherwise, you won’t have the persistence to see it through. ~Steve Jobs
People who are passionate about what they do give the best of themselves, have the desire to continuously improve, see opportunities instead of obstacles, don’t get discouraged easily, and are optimistic. A good leader takes this into account and seeks to know the ambitions of his team. He is attentive to what excites them. He then ensures that everyone has a role related to their interests. This will ensure that they are motivated, productive and able to stay with the team for the longer term.
6. Invests in continuing education.
In a world where information flows and technologies develop at breakneck speed, to stop learning is to step back. Henry Ford said:
Anyone who stops learning at twenty or eighty gets old. Whoever continues to learn stays young. The best thing in life is to stay young at heart.
This is why a good leader is constantly looking to learn new knowledge, other skills and to surpass himself. He does this through continuing education, whether by attending conferences, taking courses or learning about the most recent discoveries in his sphere of influence. This investment allows him to be up to date, to avoid his methods being obsolete and also to make new contacts in his field.
Jason Goudy is Director of Operations for Convergence Quebec, helping LeaderImpact and P2C grow in impact in Quebec. The original article (in French, used by permission) can be found here.