Contrary to popular belief, leadership isn’t as much of a position as it is an action. As once spoken by legendary coach Vince Lombardi, “leaders aren’t born; they’re made.” Countless self-help books and articles agree on certain principles for leading a team to greatness, like confidence and drive. But whether it’s on the field or in the office, one thing is certain––great leaders adapt to their environment and are willing to walk side-by-side with their teammates through the good, bad, and the ugly.
Here are the behaviors that separate a great leader from a good one.
1. Great Leaders Stay True to Themselves
Leadership is less about fitting the “classic mold” and more about being dynamic, relatable, and someone who can genuinely connect with others. True leaders recognize their values and beliefs and won’t budge under pressure or circumstances. They uphold their values and rules, which lays a foundation for the rules their people will be expected to follow. True leaders know how to communicate their values with the people that they lead in a way that creates an atmosphere of trust and vulnerability.
2. Great Leaders Don’t Lead From a Pedestal
Great leaders are intentional with the people they lead. To them, leadership isn’t about praise, power, or control; it’s about getting to know and connect with the people that they lead. True leaders work alongside their peers; this is the best way to empower and inspire your team.
3. Great Leaders Listen to & Understand Their Team
True leaders listen to their team without being judgmental or condescending. Instead of expecting a team of emotionless, rule-following robots, true leaders welcome free thought, expression, and criticism. They are patient to listen to and understand their team’s thoughts and feelings; because a great leader respects their team and cares about their wellbeing.
4. Great Leaders Practice Empathy Over Ego
In leadership, empathy is often forgotten when people think about the effective qualities of a great leader. However, it’s an important quality that makes you more effective than leading with your ego. For some, empathy is scoffed at in the workplace, and even seen as a weakness. However, it’s a helpful tool to get to know those you lead and how to lead them better. One way to practice empathy is through active listening. Instead of just hearing what you want to hear, active listening is a method you can use to engage with whoever you’re speaking to fully. Leaders who practice empathy are more respected than those who lead with ego.
Remember, your team is made up of individuals who have their own lives, feelings, and situations to tend to. Learning to hone in on your empathy can serve you well in the workplace and goes a long way in showing respect to your team.