What makes a great leader?
Leadership qualities aren’t unfathomable and mysterious attributes that only certain people possess; they are qualities and skills that you probably already have yourself, or at least can easily develop.
Unfortunately when you start to think about your own leadership attributes, it’s all too easy to think that you don’t have the ones necessary for success. You look at other female leaders who are achieving great things and you compare yourself unfavourably.
Yet the truth is, you can be a great female leader with impact and influence wherever and whenever you choose; whether that’s in your workplace, with your family, or for your community.
The question is, what are the key qualities that point to successful female leadership
In this blog I'm exploring those characteristics I have as my top seven. Your list might look different and I'd love to know what you'd have in yours.
I’m sure that as you read through you’ll recognise qualities that you already embody.
Whichever ones resonate with you, increasing your capacity in these areas is sure to improve your impact on the world and maximize your capacity for leadership.
1. Being yourself
Living authentically is more than just keeping it real. For me this is the most important; it means you have a willingness to be the creator of your own life and author your own story. And critically, to be the person you want to be, not who others expect you to be.
One of my favourite quotes about authenticity is from Brene Brown; “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go who we think we’re supposed to be, and embracing who we are.”
Because from that place, the place YOU truly are, is where you will have a positive, lasting impact.
2. Being optimistic
No one likes a ‘Negative Nellie’ , they’re draining to be around. Even when you’re faced with challenges, having a positive outlook will help you find solutions when obstacles are thrown in your way, and give you the confidence to achieve what you’re working towards.
The next time you’re faced with a challenge think of it as a learning opportunity and how you’ll feel once you’ve overcome it.
3. Being clear on your goals
The most effective leaders have a clear set of goals they want to achieve, in both the short and long term. Knowing what you want is invaluable when it comes to getting your career on track.
Once you’ve started taking steps towards what you want, or working towards smaller goals, the knock-on effect will be that you feel like you’re making real progress; hitting milestones along the way will also help keep you motivated.
Make sure you also have rewards built-in for when you reach certain goals as it’s important to celebrate all your achievements, even the little ones.
4. Being open to asking for help
It’s common to feel self-conscious and incompetent when we get stuck, however, it’s important to realise that although we might not always have the answers, someone will.
No one can do it alone.
Successful women know they need the support of family and friends. They recognize that partnerships with other groups and collaboration on projects will not only help them be better but get the job done faster and more efficiently.
Additionally, when we’re asked for help, we’re often more than not happy to offer it. Naturally the same is true when we reach out for advice and support.
Working collaboratively not only helps you on the way but can take you in a direction you’d not previously considered.
The best bit? You can really build a meaningful and impactful connection with your colleagues or friends.
5. Being confident
Our confidence comes from within. You may not think you’re confident but consider something you’ve accomplished that you’re proud of, and how you felt when you achieved it.
Most of the bigger things we’ve tackled give us assurance and then confidence that we can actually do it.
However, when we then start something new, it’s all too easy to forget that feeling and let our negative ‘inner critic’ have free reign, leading to self-doubt and feeling stuck.
Confidence is trusting that you can achieve something; you’ve succeeded before so have faith in yourself that you can do it again.
6. Being ok with change
Leadership is commonly about change, both large and small. Working or doing something you love can feel like a huge accomplishment as it provides so much learning, confidence, choice, independence, and freedom.
If change is something that scares you, I recommend reading Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, as a way to view change from new perspectives. It helped me realise that we’re growing, changing, and continually moving forward and that change isn’t always an evil.
7. Being able to listen
All the great leaders, managers, colleagues and directors I've worked with were able to listen.
And by listen, I mean active listening where they give their undivided attention and listen on an emotional level. We all know what the opposite feels like when people are distracted, don't make eye contact, and only want to listen to talk themselves and not to engage or learn.
Listening is an easy skill to master. The next time someone is talking, as well as focusing on what they're saying, try and maintain silence for 10-20 seconds after they've finished speaking. It might feel uncomfortable at first but it allows you space to take in and reflect on what they've said before you respond.
Sometimes we only listen to the first half of what someone is saying because we're composing our own response in our head and potentially miss not only important information but a chance to become a better leader.
What you can do next?
I hope these ideas have helped you think about your own leadership qualities and how you can enhance and appreciate the ones you have already.
If you'd like more support working out your own leadership attributes or if youre struggling in relation to our career in some way, then I'd love to help you.
Get in touch and let’s have a conversation about what might be holding you back. This is an opportunity without any obligation, to reflect on what you want and to have someone in your corner to support you to go for it. It’s far easier than to have to go it alone.