What makes a great leader?

If this is a question on your mind, the good news is…you are on the right path. Today’s definition of a great leader can encompass may traits, but the one thing they all have in common is self-improvement. To be a good leader is to not simply make your employees, or coworkers, do their jobs. To be a good leader is to motivate your team, help them reach their full potential and even exceed it, and to lead them on to success.

But how do you become a good leader? Some are natural leaders, being lucky to be born with it, but if you are not one of those people, don’t fret. In this blog post, we will go through four things you can do to become a better leader and in turn guide your organization to success.

1. Be a Motivated Visionary

This may sound vague, but a very important part of great leadership. One in a leadership role cannot view what they do as “just a job”. Great leaders look at their positions as an honor and a vocation, and if they truly believe they can make a difference, that is the best place to start.

With your employees, they need to believe in you, the company, and what you are trying to achieve. Vision is not an array of inspirational words to try to make your team motivated. Vision is a strategy. To have vision is to have a leadership strategy for the future, and it is the drive of what you do as a leader and as a part of the organization.

So why is having a clear vision important for your team?

It’s crucial for any leader to ensure everyone is using the same playbook so that the work done is going towards achieving the common goal. That common goal is done through a clearly defined vision. The productivity of the team is not measured by people working and how hard they are working, but by where this work is moving the company. And your job, as a leader, is to guide them towards that goal.

By having a clearly defined vision, every team member can place every project, everything they’re working on, within the scope of the broader picture. Is this bringing you closer to the end goal or is it directing you somewhere else? These questions are fulfilled if the vision is clearly defined and fully understood by all.

2. Communicate & Listen

Communication is critical in any organization. Leaders must create a culture of open, two-way communication between the leader and the team. The benefits of open communication are two-fold. First, it allows gaining insight into the processes of your organization. You can analyze the efficiencies of your current processes, gaining valuable insight into what’s working and what is not.

There are several ways communication can be encouraged. Make sure employees are not simply included in meetings but are engaged as well, generating ideas and participating in discussions. Depending on the size of your organization, it’s important to either create a system where employees can suggest ideas and solutions to management. Having a constant stream of communication between all members makes the whole organization more productive.

Communication also encourages growth within employees, and clear feedback is important. If you are not direct, your team may not know what you truly think about them and their work, which inhibits growth. It is important to share constructive feedback about what your team does, and positive feedback is just as important as negative, and a good leader will strive for a balance between the two.

3. Give Autonomy & Foster Creativity

If you want your staff to perform at their best, it’s important to give them the freedom to brainstorm and explore and to be open to their ideas and suggestions. Micromanagement can hinder productivity in terms of slowing the process down since it often leaves the team waiting for approval from their leader. When leaders delegate responsibility, this shows a level of trust and value within the organization, creating motivation to do their best work.

To be able to pick the right candidate for responsibility, it’s critical to learn about the strengths of your team and to coach them up to the level of autonomy

4. Cultivate a Culture of Generosity

Creating an organizational culture of generosity is healthy for a business environment. Engaging in acts of kindness is associated with greater happiness. While generosity is often associated with things, it can also be the generosity of time and assistance. Many in the work environment are stressed, which can put the body into a fight-or-flight mode and limits the range of thought and creativity. Positive emotions and environments make us better problem-solvers, improve productivity and inspire innovation.

In addition, a culture of generosity encourages team members to work collaboratively and provides a sense of value for the work they do. The millennial generation rate job fulfillment and future opportunities just as important as the paycheck they receive.

“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos