Great engineering leaders and managers share the same attributes and behaviors. Leadership is a competency, not a role, so it’s difficult, if not impossible, to isolate a single quality, mind-set, behavior, or attribute that signifies greatness. While great leaders tend to embody many qualities, all working in concert, here are seven attributes that in combination create greatness. These are obviously not the only attributes of a a great leader, but these are on the top of the list.
Empathy and compassion is a critical attribute of great leaders. It’s an important part of emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ). Overall, an empathetic leader interacts with others in a way that leaves them feeling safe and cared for, and as though they have a connection based on trust. The key is your empathy must be genuine and authentic
The importance of integrity should be obvious. Though it may not necessarily be a metric in employee evaluations, integrity is an essential leadership trait for the individual and the organization. It’s especially important for leaders who are charting the organization’s course and making countless other significant decisions. Our research shows that integrity may actually be a potential blind spot for organizations.
Effective leadership and effective communication are intertwined. The best leaders are skilled communicators who are able to communicate in a variety of ways, from transmitting information to inspiring others to coaching direct reports. Listening is a critical component to communication with your team.
While this is a more inwardly focused trait, self-awareness and humility are paramount for leadership. The better you understand yourself and recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, the more effective you can be as a leader. Do you know how other people view you or how you show up at work? Take the time to learn about the 4 aspects of self-awareness and how you can strengthen each component.
Being thankful can lead to higher self-esteem, reduced depression and anxiety, and better sleep. Gratitude can even make you a better leader. Yet few people regularly say “thank you” in work settings, even though most people say they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss. The best leaders know how to demonstrate sincere gratitude in the workplace.
It can be hard to speak up at work, whether you want to voice a new idea, coaching a direct report, or flag a concern for someone above you. That’s part of the reason courage is a key trait of good leaders. Rather than avoiding problems or allowing conflicts to fester, courage enables leaders to step up and move things in the right direction. A workplace with high levels of psychological safety and a strong coaching culture will further support truth and courage.
Treating people with respect on a daily basis is one of the most important things a leader can do. It will ease tensions and conflict, create trust, and improve effectiveness. Respect is about more than the absence of disrespect, and it can be shown in many different ways. Explore how you can cultivate a climate of respect at work or learn more about ways that you can become an ally to others.
What type of leader do you want to be?
Think back to the best boss you ever had. What was that person like? What attributes about their leadership did you admire. They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.