Excellent leadership can take an organization to the next level while ensuring employee loyalty, teamwork and an overarching commitment to shared goals. While leadership styles differ and personality plays a role, you can cultivate specific traits and skills to become the kind of leader your employees respond to.
We’ll explore five traits employees prefer in their leaders and share the behaviors and tendencies to avoid at all costs if you want to maintain employee respect.
The Training Industry interviewed thousands of professionals in various industries, including manufacturing, entertainment, pharmaceutical, hospitality, transportation and government, and asked them to list the qualities they wanted in a leader. Excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills were highly valued. Additionally, the survey found that people respond to integrity, follow-through, good listening skills and the ability to make employees feel valued.
Here’s a breakdown of five traits people want from their leaders and tips on cultivating these qualities.
Communication is a cornerstone of inspirational leadership. Excellent communication makes your employees’ jobs easier by setting clear expectations and parameters. The good news is that anyone can improve their communication skills with a little effort.
Here are some tips for becoming a better communicator:
As you improve your communication skills, you can become the type of leader who helps employees feel heard. This can result in a stronger company culture with deeper loyalty and improved teamwork.
Employees who feel heard — and seen — are more likely to stick around during tough times, improving your employee retention rates. In contrast, employees who feel invisible and unimportant will have less loyalty and are more likely to leave.
Listening has benefits beyond employee retention and satisfaction. Leaders who listen can glean essential insights from their employees’ diverse voices and opinions, making them more likely to discover innovative solutions and opportunities.
Here are a few ways to hone your listening skills and help your employees feel truly heard:
Integrity is a gateway to trust, respect and inspiration. Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing will earn your employees’ respect and set a fantastic example for them to follow.
In today’s work environment, employees can sniff out untruths and fluff. If you lie to, coddle or tell half-truths to your workforce, you’ll likely do irreparable damage to your reputation as a leader and your company’s brand as a whole.
Here are several ways to cultivate integrity:
Everyone’s human, and we all make mistakes. A leader with integrity is honest and relatable — and doesn’t have to be perfect.
Excellent people management requires following through on commitments. By making and keeping promises, you demonstrate your reliability and set a great example for your team.
Failing to follow through on a commitment can be as damaging as telling an outright lie. Once you demonstrate that you only pay lip service to something, you may spend years regaining that lost respect and trust. Following through on your commitments fosters an environment of respect and value that spreads throughout an organization.
Great leaders give credit where it’s due. Not every great idea comes from the C-suite, and business success is a collective effort. Ensure your employees get the accolades they deserve to create an environment where people feel valued for their opinions, thoughts and ideas.
Leaders who highlight their team’s successes will be rewarded with their employees’ respect and admiration. By recognizing their teams’ achievements, these influential leaders encourage healthy competition and collaboration among team members.
Employees need leaders they can admire and feel comfortable communicating with. To be the best leader possible, you must continuously improve your professional and people skills and avoid the behaviors that drive employees away. Here are the top behaviors to avoid when working on your leadership goals.
Feedback can easily hit a shallow point in the business world. Your best employees know they’re good at their jobs, and lackluster employees think they’re doing enough to survive. Standard performance management practices often fall short.
If you want your employees to benefit from feedback, consider expanding their mindset from day-to-day tasks to long-term goals. For example, a great customer service agent may hit daily number goals, but are they polite? Do they foster loyal customers?
Feedback sessions should be an opportunity to learn more about your team. Ask them about their long-term career goals and how you can help them get there. Building relationships can help you have challenging conversations and encourage employees to come to you when they’re struggling or feeling underappreciated.
Teams often have weak links. For example, some employees have workplace absenteeism issues, habitually show up late, or fail to turn in paperwork on time. Unfortunately, these employees tend to get away with their behavior.
Instead of confronting problematic employees, bosses sometimes take the easy way out and ignore the issue. They may think having a weak link is better than going through the replacement process.
However, this sentiment is short-sighted. Every employee must be held to the same standards to avoid a toxic work culture, productivity losses and accusations of workplace favoritism.
A micromanager takes an already complex project and turns it into chaos. Refusal to delegate tasks can stifle employee growth and make it impossible to reach goals.
Excellent leaders foster a culture of empowered employees. Employees must feel ownership over their work and maintain control to produce creative ideas and remain productive. Trust your team to use their strengths to accomplish a project everyone can be proud of.
Be clear about everyone’s responsibilities. Once you step back, the team might exceed your expectations.
Making your way to the top takes work. But once you’re there, you can’t do your job alone. Treating every team member with respect and empathy is crucial.
Participating in unprofessional behavior, such as gossiping, boasting about your pay, or making your employees feel guilty about putting family before work can quickly become bad boss behavior.
Bosses are held to a higher standard than their team. They’re responsible for organizing workers and managing projects. Unfortunately, some bosses have messy desk syndrome, are frequently late, or lose track of essential documents.
Leaders must take time for self-care and focus on personal and business organization. Bosses don’t have to be perfect. However, their teams should see them as prepared, on task and in touch.
Angela Koch contributed to this article.