We’re all familiar with “the usual” lauded top leadership qualities: focused, passionate, inspiring. Those qualities are undoubtedly important.
But we’ve probably all worked for people who are passionate but never praise or thank their team or leaders who are focused at the expense of morale.
There’s more to being a great leader than passion and inspiration.
Being a good leader requires more from us than inspiring speeches at stakeholder meetings or a laser-like focus on the bottom line. In fact, there are several underappreciated leadership qualities that could be the difference between a good leader and a truly great one.
5 Underappreciated Leadership Qualities
A great leader knows when to say “I don’t know; let’s look into it.” They understand their strengths and weakness, how to hire and delegate accordingly. A great leader understands their blind spots and how to bring in people who can cover those blind spots.
A great leader openly seeks feedback from others on how they are showing up. They’re quick to acknowledge their own mistakes.
Even better, a great leader will openly acknowledge all this! When someone compliments their streamlined on-boarding process, they can laugh and say “Oh, that’s all Chris’s idea in HR. He’s great isn’t he?”
Which leads us to #2. . .
2. Showing appreciation
Years ago, I worked with a senior leader at a global consulting firm who was highly regarded by his peers and staff. Why? He went out of his way to “sing the praises” of others and acknowledge talent publicly.His appreciation was absolutely genuine and everyone who heard it could tell. His vocal praise
had a tremendous impact on everyone around him. It affected not just the person being publicly acknowledged; it upped the game of anyone who heard it and wanted their own place in a future spotlight.
Public appreciation does double duty for leaders. It shows the appreciation-recipient how much you value them. It also shows everyone else in the room that you’re the sort of leader who acknowledges hard work.
Take five minutes at the end of your next meeting to praise someone whose hard work has made all the difference.
Good leaders know where they’re going, why they’re going there, and why everyone on the team needs to come with them. They’ve done the research; they can speak and act with certainty.
Just as importantly, great leaders lead with confidence not arrogance. A confident leader doesn’t need to prove they are the smartest one in the room or name-drop out of context. They don’t constantly interrupt or have a know-it-all answer for everything.
We all want to be lead by someone who knows what they’re doing. We’d all prefer to be lead by someone who can do it without hubris.
4. Artfully addressing destructive conflict
We are not, of course, referring to painful-but-important constructive feedback. We’re also not talking about the everyday conflicts that arise when your staff respectfully, diplomatically, productively disagree.
Destructive conflicts are conflicts that chip away at morale, increase turnover, or lead to unkind in-office gossip. A good leader can spot destructive conflict the minute it rears its ugly head and address it right away. Not letting it fester for two weeks of grumbling and passive aggressive emails, but immediately.
5. A warm (not sarcastic) sense of humor
The internet would have us believe that the only way to be funny is through irony or sarcasm. You’re much more likely to connect with your team through a warm or sincere sense of humor.
We develop caring connections with our team by actually caring and understanding people. The best humor we can use is, you know, funny. Great leaders never make jokes at someone’s expense or put people down. They use their humor to release the steam of intense periods and as a way lift people up, not tear them down.
These five leadership qualities aren’t usually listed for top performance, but they can absolutely nudge you from good leader to great.