A good business leader is more than just someone who can delegate tasks and monitor employees closely. The best leaders are people who can inspire their employees to perform well. Since attitude is a reflection of leadership, a great leader ends up running a great business.
Integrity Is One of the Most Essential Leadership Qualities
Any list of good qualities for a leader to have starts with integrity. Integrity is a virtue that involves being both sincere and morally upright. People who have integrity have a set of ethical principles that they clearly discuss and openly follow.
Why is this so important? First of all, it's essential because employees think it is. Surveys have found that employees believe integrity is the most important quality for a leader to have. If they perceive a leader as lacking in integrity, they simply cannot respect or trust them.
Integrity also ends up informing every interaction you have with employees and customers. A person of integrity ends up treating others fairly, kindly, and respectfully. This leadership quality also helps to prevent a lot of poor leadership traits, like bullying, rudeness, and discrimination.
How to Maintain Integrity in Your Daily Leadership Behaviors
At first glance, having integrity might seem simple. But when the going gets tough, being able to maintain integrity can get hard. If you want to maintain the respect of your employees, follow these tips for keeping your integrity at all times.
Commit to having integrity as the most important of your leadership qualities
To maintain integrity, you need to be fully committed. Otherwise, it's easy to slip into mistakes like exaggerating billable hours or tweaking reported expenses. Many leaders find it helpful to write down a core mission statement that includes always meeting the highest standards of integrity.
Remember that the characteristics of a leader include leading by example
Many leaders find it helpful to remember that they aren't just being principled for themselves. They are also doing it because employees will inevitably end up mimicking the behavior of their leader. If you are tempted to behave without integrity, stop and think, "Would I want one of my employees to do this?" If the answer is no, it's probably an action you shouldn't be doing either.
Practice wise leadership behaviors when dealing with ethical problems
As a leader, you'll inevitably end up encountering ethical dilemmas. Avoid going with personal reactions or just picking the easiest solution possible. Instead, think carefully about your values and explore all outcomes until you can find a solution that doesn't involve moral compromises.
The Four Other Important Qualities of a Good Leader
Integrity might be the most important of all the leadership behaviors, but it's not the only trait you need. Here are the four other essential qualities of a good leader.
Leadership quality #1: Honesty
Integrity and honesty frequently get confused, but from a business perspective, they are two separate but equally important traits. In addition to adhering to your own code of morals, you also need to be honest. Successful leaders have to be honest because it's very easy for staff to tell when they're lying.
If you are not being honest with your employees, they are likely to sense it and quit trusting you. Even the simple honesty of being able to admit failings and say things like "I don't know, but let's find out" can be positive. It makes employees feel like they can rely on you, and they won't be afraid to be honest with you either.
Leadership quality #2: Humility
Many leaders get an elevated sense of importance due to their position. While there's nothing wrong with having pride in your accomplishments, it's important to stay humble. You need to remember that being a leader doesn't make you better than everyone else; it just makes you different.
Humility as a leader comes in many forms. It can include things like recognizing others' contributions, not bragging about your salary, and not being afraid to do menial tasks. By staying humble, you encourage a sense of teamwork and prevent resentment among employees.
Leadership quality #3: Trust
A lack of trust can lead to a major disconnection between management and employees. When you don't trust your employees, you tend to micromanage their actions. This wastes your time and causes resentment to develop. If you want to create a better workplace environment, you need to trust that you hired the right staff and be confident in their ability to think critically and get work done.
Good leaders also trust themselves. If you are constantly second guessing, it's hard to make decisive moves and generate respect. Though humility is very important, you also need the ability to recognize your own skills and be confident in your leadership.
Leadership quality #4: Commitment
A good leader is all in. They aren't constantly getting distracted or planning their next step. Instead, you should be fully committed to and focused on your current job.
This level of engagement helps you to remain passionate and inspire your employees. Committed leaders make more innovative decisions, boost workplace morale, and help to increase productivity.
Final Thoughts About the Qualities of a Good Leader
Who you are as a person says a lot about your abilities to lead. Those who are honest, upright, kind, and humble are often already on the path to being a great leader. With a little commitment to your job and trust in your employees, you can easily handle all sorts of workplace challenges.
Barbara Weltman is the founder of Big Ideas for Small Business, Inc., which publishes Idea of the Day® and the e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business®. She is an attorney, a trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and a prolific author of important books such as J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes and Home Business Magazine’s Home-Based Business Start-Up Guide. She has been named one of the 100 Small Business Influencers in the nation and a winner of numerous awards for her blogs. She serves on the advisory board for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.