Top 5 Attributes To Succeed As A Leader

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There is an abundance of people in leadership roles of various kinds all around us. However, what's important to know is, it's not being in the role of a leader, but how effective you are in that role that matters. There are myriad successful leaders who we may consider role models - may it be a politician like Abraham Lincoln who single headedly abolished slavery in America, an activist like Che Guevera who lead the Cuban Revolution, Gandhi, who brought India its Independence, a professor who guided you through college, or even a boss who pushed you to your full potential. What is the one thing they all had in common? They made an impact.

In a recent Employee Engagement Study conducted by Dale Carnegie Training India in partnership with National HRD, that surveyed over 1200 employees across various organisations and sectors within India, it was interesting to note that among the functional and emotional elements surveyed, two of the three key drivers that stood out as having the strongest effect on employee engagement were:

· Satisfaction with immediate manager
· Belief in senior leadership
Whether it's a senior manager or an immediate supervisor, their impact as a leader on their employees is directly affecting the levels of engagement at their organisations.

Leadership is about having the ability to gain cooperation, persuade others to your point of view and rally a team toward a common goal. It is not merely about being able to communicate professionally and confidently in any business situation, expressing your ideas in ways that are heard, generating enthusiasm from managers, co-workers, staff, and clients but is also about giving difficult feedback, resolving conflicts, delegating effectively, and building relationships based on trust and accountability.

Here is a list of 5 attributes that make a successful leader:

1. They lead by example
Leaders set the tone for the organization and define its goals. These behaviors and goals need to be clearly defined, realistic for the employees to achieve and communicated throughout the organization. This will create a shared sense of responsibility for the success of the organization.

Workers' perception of senior leaders tends to be less positive than their perception of immediate supervisors, possibly because they are distanced from management and more likely to concentrate blame for all problems in the organization on the executives. Leaders have to project a positive manner in all interactions with other managers and employees and be accessible to them.

Each team or department needs to understand how its roles and tasks fit into the organizational vision. Use the diversity of skills, experiences and backgrounds within the team to create an enthusiastic and innovative environment. Build a climate of trust within the team, ensuring that the necessary feedback.

2. They value others
Undervaluing his/her people is one of the biggest mistakes a leader can make. The Dale Carnegie India Employee Engagement Study 2014 talks about how one of the top emotional attributes of engagement is feeling valued. As such, leaders need to treat their colleagues and subordinates as valuable people with skills rather than people with valuable skills.

3. They show genuine interest in others
According to the Dale Carnegie India Employee Engagement Report 2014 only 45% Indian employees were satisfied with their immediate supervisor and 12% of the respondents were actually very unhappy with this key relationship. While a majority of the respondents said that their immediate supervisor treats them with respect, they also felt that s/he is not interested in them or does not care about their personal life. We cannot effectively influence others if we do not work on building meaningful relationships with them. As Dale Carnegie himself said, "The only way on earth to influence the other fellow is to talk about what he wants and show him how to get it."

4. They admit their wrongs
Being able to admit our own mistakes demonstrates strength of character. People will trust and respect you more if you are able to own up to your errors. Nobody looks up to a leader that shies away from taking responsibility, makes excuses or blames someone else for his/her mistakes. This concept eliminates barriers and helps others to be more open to being influenced by you. In fact, it has been observed that greatest learning and growth for a leader comes from the mistakes s/he makes and the obstacles s/he overcomes.

5. They are hungry for knowledge
The 'power of knowledge' is an invaluable concept that has been expounded to us all since we were young. The greatest leaders are those that never forget this piece of advice and never stop learning. Reading, listening, engaging, asking questions and keeping an open mind, together, are the foundations for success. An individual with a know-it-all attitude and arrogance about his/her own intellect is only restricting him/herself from reaching greater heights. The most impactful, influential and successful leaders are the ones hungry to learn and expand their knowledge in order to adapt to today's fast changing world.

( About the author: The article has been written by Ms. Pallavi Jha, Chairperson and Managing Director, Dale Carnegie Training India.)
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