The Five Essential Qualities of Great Leadership to Get Your Team through Tough Times

During uncertain times, it is especially important for teams to have great leaders. There are many definitions of leadership, but they can be boiled down to the Five Traits of Great Leadership:

1. Great leaders know themselves.

2. Great leaders establish vision and direction.

3. Great leaders empower their teams.

4. Great leaders align people in positions to maximize each individual’s strengths.

5. Great leaders motivate and inspire.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these attributes, especially as they apply to successfully communicating as a team leader with stakeholders.

Leaders, growth, and personal lessons.

1. Great Leaders Know Themselves

Know Your Personal Ego Needs

Leaders are more effective if they make decisions without the influence of their egos and judgments about people or situations. The ego can present itself as fear. This fear — of failure, loss of status, lack of recognition, or other factors — translates into destructive actions, such as always needing to be right, verbally attacking others, indecision, failure to delegate, withdrawing, risk aversion, or taking inappropriate risks.

To start learning about yourself, pay attention to how you react throughout your day. Ask yourself these questions:

· Why do certain people trigger reactions in me?

· When do I feel angry?

· What part of me feels threatened and why?

Continue to Grow as a Leader

History clearly demonstrates that everyone fails from time to time. Don’t be afraid to show an appropriate level of vulnerability to your team; let them see that you recognize your flaws and that you are willing to change.

Your personal growth plan can start with a simple three-step strategy:

1. Request and receive regular feedback from a trusted mentor.

2. Do a “personal lessons learned” introspection every week that includes these questions:

a. What went well?

b. What could I have done better?

c. When did my ego cause me to not listen or to handle a situation badly?

3. Meet monthly with your team’s leaders, and do a group evaluation of the past thirty days.

2. Great Leaders Establish Vision and Direction

Develop a Vision for the Future and Strategies for Producing Changes

The leader’s vision is the team’s road map to success. To create a vision for the future, you must clearly define what success means for your team. As you look at priorities and assign activities, ask yourself, “How do these activities line up with our success criteria?” Activities that do not align should be redesigned.

Facilitate Completion

A good leader understands how to bring a task to completion, which always necessitates defining what it means for an activity, document, or product to be complete. Even in a chaotic environment, when requirements and priorities are constantly changing, it is important to have a structure that allows teams to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Develop a Plan Consistent with Your Goals and Requirements

Know and understand the goals and requirements of your organization and stakeholders. As a leader, you need to know exactly what the goals are so you can show your team where to expend energy and resources.

Vision, goals, and empowerment.

3. Great Leaders Empower Their Team

Diffuse Responsibility and Authority to Empower Your Team to Make Decisions

There is a significant difference between micromanaging and leveraging control. Micromanagement is telling the team how to do the job; leveraging control tells the team what they need to do. There is a time and place for micromanagement, but it should only happen for specific reasons and short bursts of time.

Provide an Environment of Trust

Trust encourages teams to work together to solve problems. When a team has a culture of trust, both from management toward the team and vice versa, there will be:

· more disclosure of information,

· more acceptance of others’ ideas,

· a more comfortable, relaxed, and creative atmosphere,

· a feeling of excitement about work, and

· a sense of accomplishment among employees for being part of the solution.

An environment of trust starts with the manager. If employees, customers, or upper management suspects the presence of hidden agendas, withheld information, or lies, they will hold back in return. Trust is a self-reinforcing process.

How Do You Create a Trusting Environment?

Share information so that people are not forced to make assumptions, and be honest in your communication. It’s that simple.

When we make assumptions, we don’t check in to verify that our imaginations are correct. Fewer assumptions are made in a trusting environment where people communicate frequently, openly, and honestly.

4. Great Leaders Maximize Individual Strengths

Know Your Team and Their Talents

Analyze your team members, and find out their natural talents and skills. Then, realign your staff to take advantage of these different skills.

Aligning people based on their talents requires flexibility, initiative, and energy. The alternative, however, is a team that doesn’t trust its leadership and runs inefficiently.

Define Clear Authority and Accountability

One of the worst situations you can be put in is to have the responsibility for a task but no real authority. Putting team members in such a bind can be frustrating and destructive.

As a leader, you need to provide clear roles and responsibilities. Be very explicit when you state who has the authority and the responsibility for major activities.

Authority, accountability, and passion.

5. Great Leaders Motivate and Inspire

Show Passion and Excitement

Teams with great passion and commitment but inferior resources and equipment will almost always outperform a team with a ho-hum attitude, even if the latter team has state-of-the-art equipment and resources. As a leader, it’s up to you to exhibit a sense of excitement and anticipation about what you are doing. This attitude is contagious — and that’s a good thing.

Help People Energize Themselves to Overcome Barriers to Change

Changes are difficult to make, and the most challenging portion of the timeline of change is the period of transition. One of the most effective ways to facilitate a transition is through frequent communication.

On occasion, there will be people on the team who will be disruptive, resistant to change, and dismissive of new ideas. Unless you can get these individuals functioning from a better place, they can poison the health of your organization. It is imperative that the manager communicate frequently with disruptive individuals.

Be a Role Model for Ethical Behavior

Ethical analysis is the process of determining right and wrong. In an ethical environment, risks of all types are reduced because collaboration and honest discussion typify the team.

As a manager, you need to show the team, by your words and actions, what is right and wrong. You can do this by:

· Keeping communication open

· Listening

· Actively managing risks

Open discussion and management of risks promote honesty and clarity.

Remember That Positive Energy Creates More Positive Energy

Positive energy from a leader permeates throughout the organization. It pulls people together, makes them believe in their mission, increases productivity, and saves money and time.

Negative energy from a leader creates more negative energy. The team spends time complaining, whining, and not focusing on success. Such teams typically end up over budget and past deadlines.

Care about Your Team

Have you ever had a boss you believed really cared about you? How did it make you feel? Didn’t you work harder for that person? This may not mean your boss wasn’t tough or demanding — just that they truly cared.

You can show your team that you care by listening more and talking less. Keep your ego in check, and don’t assume that everyone wants to listen to you talk. There may be extraordinary ideas, opinions, and thoughts you miss just by failing to listen.

Listening, transparency, and honesty.

Putting the Pieces Together

Great leaders genuinely care about the welfare of those they lead because they realize that people are the most important part of any organization.

Great leaders:

· operate with transparency, honesty, and the highest ethical standards;

· create an environment of trust;

· know themselves;

· establish a vision and direction;

· empower their team;

· align team members according to individual strengths; and

· are able to motivate and inspire.

By cultivating these qualities, you can become a great leader, and more importantly, you will have a strong team that trusts your ability to lead them.




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