5 qualities of a good leader
As Unit Lead of the mmmake HR department, Katharina Kechter’s focus is on people. In this context, she is not only responsible for the operational responsibility and strategic orientation of our HR department – as a manager of a team consisting of 14 members, she has also been dealing with the topic of “leading at eye level” for more than two years. In her guest article, she explains her perspective on leadership.
What qualities should a good leader have?
If this question were easy to answer, there would not be hundreds of books, studies or scientific papers dealing with this topic. Nevertheless, there are essential points that make it possible to shape leadership in the first place.
I like to talk about “seeing” the employees. In order to do justice to the complexity of human beings, a great deal of empathy is needed. Even if we think we know the person, there are many other variables at play, such as the prevailing situation, current state of mind, physical condition, or even other people present. A succinctly uttered sentence can be completely factual one moment, but highly emotional the next. To get the feel for it, it takes time to gain experience above all.
Look in the mirror
Another quality to develop in terms of leadership is self-reflection. This can be done very well by asking yourself questions, such as: How would I feel if I had been treated this way or that way? Would I have liked the same reaction from my supervisor? Imagine making a mistake – how would you wish to be treated if it happened to you?
Even a manager is only human. And even this does not always react in the same way – for a variety of reasons: Stress, fatigue, etc. And that is exactly why this reflection is important – to consciously look at the overall situation from the “outside” in order to be able to evaluate one’s own actions.
Clear goals convey security
For employees to work efficiently, they need security. But how do you convey this as a manager? Safety can be viewed from different angles. We start with the most banal: the destination. The clearer this is, the more certain employees are about which path they should take. The same applies to the clarity of the role. Where do their responsibilities lie? Where the boundaries? This brings certainty to their decisions. But the certainty of always having support can also inspire employees. It is comparable to climbing. Would I climb up the same way if I wasn’t secured with a rope? Hardly. And it’s the same at work. The certainty of always having support and backing when it is needed gives courage to rise above oneself.
Courage! A very strong word with so many facets. Because especially in management positions, not all variables can be estimated. So it takes courage to make decisions despite various risks. Courage to stand up for one’s opinion and to take a path that not everyone finds good. Courage also means consciously entering into confrontations and not avoiding every conflict . Courage is also needed for one’s own personal development. We all reach personal limits at some point. To step out of this comfort zone, courage is essential.
Open and effective communication
However, leadership is also often an interplay between the employee and the manager. Without open and honest communication on both sides, there will always be conflicts that are difficult to resolve. Therefore, I would like to summarize here the ability of communication and honesty. It is downright an appeal to keep these two points in focus. It does not matter whether it is about the processing of a task or about the subjective feeling at a meeting. If it matters to you, then you should be honest with yourself and others and talk about it. Having this ability makes you approachable and creates trust. This in turn leads to security, motivation and commitment . With the last sentence, it is immediately apparent how complex and intricate the topic of leadership is. That is why there is the huge number of books and studies mentioned above, and rightly so.
We may not be able to solve all problems with our Future Leads program, but we can raise awareness of the importance of certain attributes. With the help of the wealth of experience of the participants, we have the opportunity to provide impulses, offer assistance and set the first important course.
Because one thing is clear: You don’t learn good leadership within a few workshops. Leadership takes time and experience. Leadership needs real situations. Leadership also thrives on failure. Just like in real life – you never stop learning.