There Are Some Tell-Tale Signs Of Good Leadership. Here’s What to Look For.
If you have been a manager for any length of time, you have probably been to management or leadership workshops, or read books on management and leadership. For decades, there has been a lot of money made by authors and trainers on the skills required to be a good leader. Simply because you have read some books or articles, or attended leadership training, it does not mean you are a good leader of people. What you have done, and continue to do with that knowledge is what determines whether or not you are a good leader.
The best way to find out if you are a good leader is to get on-going, objective, specific feedback on your leadership behaviors from an objective person. That person should be skilled at giving feedback and offering suggestions for improvement. That person does not have to be an outside leadership analyst like me; it can be a friend or colleague that wants to see you improve and only has your success as an agenda.
If you do not have someone in your life that will give you straight feedback, or do not have the money to pay an outsider, there are still some things that you can use to gauge your effectiveness as a leader. These are just some indicators; a true measure of your leadership behaviors comes from direct feedback from others. You cannot be objective about your own behavior, so look for these things:
Good performance. One of the things that all good leaders have in common is good performance. That performance can be on your individual tasks, how your people perform, how your plant performs, etc. Quantifiable results are tried and true signs of good leadership. Those measures should include production, quality, customer service, costs, timeliness, and other specialized measures that your company focuses on. The best way to look at that performance is based on your own history, not the performance of others. Your situation is unique and not the same as other leaders, so look for improvement over your history.
Positive employee attitudes. Even softer measures like employee attitudes are indicators of good leadership. If your company does employee attitude surveys, your results should be continually improving, and be among the best in the company. Written comments on those surveys should be positive and speak highly of you. Good attendance and low employee turnover can sometimes be indicators of motivated employees. That motivation stems from a good leader. If employees are anxious to volunteer for projects, show up at events, and speak highly of you to friends and family, you are probably a good leader.
Your team is in demand. If your team members are getting requests from other departments for advice, or assistance in some way, it is a good sign of your leadership. Working with other groups within the company can be challenging at times and if your employees are sought out it means that you have helped them develop good cross-functional skills. If your team members are being approached by other companies to come work for them, it is a good sign of how you have developed them also.
You have a successor in mind. Developing and coaching someone to replace you can be tough for a lot of leaders. People who struggle with it need to realize that having someone to replace them means they themselves are ready to advance. Taking the time and putting in the effort, to effectively develop a successor means that when you leave, your operation will continue to perform well.
Employees move up and out. If you are a good leader, you will lose people. Not because things are negative for them, quite the opposite. Good leaders develop people for not only their current jobs, but for future opportunities also. When your team members have highly honed skills in both technical and non-technical areas, they are ready for advanced opportunities. A continuing cycle of hiring good people, developing them, and helping them move on to bigger and better things is a sign that you are an effective leader. If your company’s high potential lists are filled with your people’s names, that is good leadership.
People seek you out. Good leaders are seldom sitting in their office alone. People want to meet and spend time with good leaders. If you are continually getting emails, texts, phone calls, and meeting requests from others, you are probably a good leader. Good listening skills are a common trait among good leaders, and people will seek out a good leader for that purpose, along with seeking advice and input.