Great question! To give a concise answer is impossible. Theories, seminars, textbooks, scientists, sociologists, management thinkers, under graduate and post graduate degree courses, workshops, training schools, coaching courses, etc. etc., all work hard to create great leaders in some form or fashion.
I want to offer a few points, from my perspective, of what makes a great leader in respect to building a strong, effective and dynamic team. I think we would all agree that a strong, effective and dynamic team could only have positive results on a company’s culture, productivity and bottom line; and it takes a great leader to build and maintain that type of team.
Great Leaders Identify
When it comes to getting the work done, great leaders can identify the right people and assign important and challenging jobs. It can be very demotivating to know you’ve been given the boring, mundane tasks. A great leader knows they are showing how much the person is valued by allocating and sharing important tasks.
Training and career development is often seen as costly and many may feel concerned that if you develop the people they will move on. Yes, some may move on, but many don’t. Staff who have been developed and given opportunities to build skills and knowledge and encouraged to develop their career will give back to the organisation is much richer ways (e.g. loyalty, commitment, skill, talent pipeline and succession readiness). Even if the person does leave, they’ll be an ambassador for how well the company treated them during their employment.
Great Leaders Involve
Great leaders involve the team in decision-making. Quite often the end result is not negotiable. The processes, actions and milestones to achieving the end result however may be at the discretion of the leader. If the leader wants the team to own the result, then a great leader knows to involve the team in deciding how to achieve that result.
Praise and feedback are always evident from a great leader. Not tokenistic or vague praise and feedback, rather specific, constructive and timely. Whether the situation is positive or negative the most specific and constructive the message is, the more likely the positive impact and result. A great leader knows this.
Great Leaders Are Available
Accessibility is important. Leaders within organisations are often unavailable, off at meetings, meetings, meetings! A great leader knows to keep the team up to date on his or her whereabouts and how to get in contact. Beyond this, the great leader is an accessible person; they encourage the team to come forward with problems and questions. The great leader is not someone who sets a tone where people fear him or her, nor fear owning up to mistakes, errors and problems.
Great Leaders Solve Problems
A great leader has the maturity and wisdom to not jump in too quickly and solve problems for the team. The great leader encourages problem solving within the team, is able to facilitate problem solving without directing it, and will step in when and where necessary.
While there may be many more attributes to making a great leader I have identified a few key ones from a team building perspective. In summary, great leaders:
- Delegate important and interesting work
- Provide training and professional development opportunities
- Involve the team in decision-making
- Give quality praise and feedback
- Are accessible
- Encourage problem solving
What About You?
What other attributes can you add that make a great leader?