What does it mean to lead? Does one become a leader just by holding a title such as ‘manager’ or’ ‘vice-president’? True leaders are not defined by their ranks or tenures, but by their personal qualities and skills. Read on to find out the leadership qualities that are relevant in today’s workplace.

1) Develop empathy

To empathise is to be aware of and understand your colleagues’ experiences, feelings, needs and concerns. It is the conscious attempt to establish and maintain authentic relationships in the workplace.

Empathetic leaders have high emotional intelligence and communicate effectively. They are not afraid to reveal their true and vulnerable selves, encouraging their colleagues to do the same. Such sincere attitude helps to build camaraderie, and a community where everyone can freely and confidently share their own thoughts and ideas.

2) Keep communication lines open

In the age of social media, millennials in the workplace tend to value open communication more than any other generation. Millennial leaders thrive on this constant connection in order to build high-spirited and cohesive teams. ‘Collaborative leadership’ has now become the buzzword.

Feedback should go both ways: leaders should check-in daily with their team members, while team members should speak up if in doubt about their leader’s decisions. This ‘flat’ type of leadership allows better dissemination of information across the whole team.

In today’s millennial culture, team members would work more effectively by understanding ‘why’ they have been assigned certain tasks and goals. They also have the responsibility to ensure they are aligned with their leader’s goals, regularly update their leader and meet deadlines.

3) Be proactive

Leaders are initiators. They often go beyond their call of duty and volunteer for tasks and projects, as long as they believe in the underlying principles and values governing these actions. These assertive individuals continuously find opportunities to contribute, lead and gain experience. For instance, recommending solutions to workflow issues, participating in a cross-functional team or leading a special projects committee.

4) Commit to the goals of your organisation

In order to ignite passion and commitment in a team member, leaders must be able to connect their role to the overall objectives of the company. When they see the relevance of their role to the grand scheme of the company, they realise the purpose of their work and this makes it easier for them to make a genuine commitment.

When leaders also manifest a sincere pledge to the company, the team member’s commitment is further strengthened. Pledging to company goals means that employees should work side-by-side with upper management in pursuit of these goals.

5) Be a role model

Here are 10 ways to further reveal your leadership qualities:

  1. Be punctual and avoid leaving work early often, unless for important reasons.
  2. If you are sick, inform your superior immediately.
  3. Always maintain a positive attitude.
  4. Communicate in a pleasant manner and listen openly. Keep an open mind when receiving constructive criticism.
  5. Give due respect and praise to others.
  6. Manage your time at work well. Exhibit self-discipline and show your superior that you need minimal supervision.
  7. Know by heart the company’s vision, mission, products and services.
  8. Keep your skills and industry knowledge relevant through continuing education.
  9. Dress appropriately and practice good hygiene.
  10. Ensure that your work area is clean and organised.

The key to becoming a successful leader today is to promote a culture of honest and continual feedback. Such a culture of transparency will not only strengthen the working relationship between leader and team member, but also encourage the identification of products, services and processes that require improvement.

Successful leaders will also leverage on this culture to give team members short-term and relatable goals for which they will be held accountable, and make an impact in the workplace.

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