Leadership can be defined as many things. Above all else, it’s the unequivocal ability to bring the best out of others to achieve a common goal.
The best leaders this world has ever seen all have at least one thing in common, integrity. There are two definitions of the word integrity: honesty and morality, and the other about unity and wholeness. Both meanings come together to make perhaps the most impactful word of leadership. Without integrity in anything you do, your efforts go in vain. Think of integrity as a guiding light. It’s the very foundation in which your principles are defined as a person.
Who are you as a person? What are your characteristics? Are you confident but humble? Strong yet nimble? Assertive but graceful? All of these factors ultimately decide whether or not you make a great leader. Leading with integrity means doing the right thing at the end of the day. Usually, in our careers, or life in general, we have the option of taking the easier route.
This road is often taken to lessen the amount on one’s plate, but typically at the detriment of their growth process. Furthermore, it takes the integrity out of the equation. Leaders make difficult decisions, including choosing the right plan of action, even if it brings more challenges. Leaders are triumphant and don’t let the simplicity of a decision sway them. Instead, they choose the route that is fair and just.
The path of fair and just decision making requires an immense amount of communication. When asked about the defining principles of leadership, any great leader will mention communication at one point or another. If they don’t you may want to seek guidance elsewhere. Because at the end of the day, communication should never be up for discussion, it’s a deal-breaker.
The ability to navigate different personalities is so intricate and involves much deep thinking and deliberation. It’s how a supervisor decides who takes the lead on a project. What does the project entail? Does it require more of a calculated, plan-driven, introverted type of person? Or a personable, energetic, extroverted kind of person?
Communication in leadership involves relationship building, which is accomplished by being an avid listener. Doing so requires considerable comprehension skills to ascertain and ultimately decipher someone’s gifts and abilities. It’s part of the responsibility of a leader.
Empowerment starts with how someone conducts themselves. You often hear the saying lead by example. It’s stuck around for a long time for a reason. It couldn’t be more true when it comes to leadership. How can you ask someone else to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself? Getting down in the trenches shows the people you are leading that you’re eager to do the dirty work just like them, and you’ll do anything to reach your common goal.
Typically, people don’t want to be led by someone who thinks they’re better than others or holds themselves in such a manner. Rather, they admire someone who runs the gamut of leadership qualities, including the ability to relate to what they do, while still having the experience necessary to teach them the things they don’t.
The key to leadership is using integrity and communication to empower others. After all, the job is to lead, not to follow, which means positioning yourself in such a way to gain the trust of others. Being authentic and providing the necessary resources for others to succeed is just the start. Furthermore, giving feedback and taking criticism is equally essential. Indeed, part of leading is to judge what others can do and place them in the best position to succeed accordingly.
Yet, true empowerment involves the group you’re leading to give you criticism as well. It’s a let me help you, help me, help you situation. Recognizing we all have the ability to grow and self-improve is vital to the character of a leader. Ideally, the group you lead benefits you as much as you benefit them. The characteristics of outstanding leadership include integrity, communication, and empowerment, all of which come together to influence and maximize others’ efforts.