The Four Most Voted Qualities People Want From Their Leaders
If you are a leader, you must see the results from this research. It will change the way you lead and bring about a better experience for your team.
Upon watching a lecture by London Business School, I was stunned by the results of a study conducted. They gave people who worked in organisations a list of positive traits and asked what they wanted from their leaders.
In the lecture, handling complexity, Professor Richard Jolly summarises the research quickly. I would advise watching the whole presentation if you have time. It has given me a tonne of new insights into leadership.
I do not think that this should come as much of a surprise to anyone. Honesty is one of the only traits we can portray to ensure people trust us. Even if you are not a leader, honesty is something you need in everyday life.
However, the thing about this trait is learning to be transparent. As leaders, it can be easy to make your team believe everything is under control. In the COVID pandemic, many leaders were telling their teams not to worry and outlining plans. However, behind closed doors, they were panicking and were struggling to navigate the difficulty.
Your team members can tell when you are not confident in making a decision. Yes, you can try putting on a bold face, but for the most part, people know when someone is struggling or feel under pressure.
In these moments, your team want you to ask them for help. By being honest, you can create an environment that is non-judgemental and free for sharing ideas. It is under these conditions your team feel willing to share and are more involved.
Note the quality is vision, not strategy. It is essential to make a distinction between the two because leaders are more than strategy planners.
Vision is the ability to imagine how something could develop in the future, or the ideas that come from imagining in this way. — Cambridge Dictionary
Strategy is a detailed plan for achieving success in situations such as war, politics, business, industry, or sport, or the skill of planning for such situations. — Cambridge Dictionary
Although the strategy is vital, and your team would not know what to do without it, it is not a quality your team see as essential. After all, a lot of the strategy is defined from the top down, so they often feel like they have no influence to shape it.
What your team members want is a compelling vision. Something that excites you when you speak about it and motivates them to act. You may have a vision for how you would like a department to be run or just of the world in general. Whatever it is, your team want this from you.
It keeps them interested and motivated in the work they do. Without a clear and compelling vision, your team will lose interest.
Inspiration comes from the Latin word “inspirare”, which means to breathe into. Most leaders would have thought that this would be somewhere near the top, but it is not.
Inspiration is essential because it is part of giving energy to others. And we all need re-energising from others from time to time, especially when we are feeling low.
However, with this quality being rated low in the top four, I think it points to something deeper. That is that within the right environment, people can energise themselves.
When we are doing purposeful things, we do not need people to energise us to do it. We tend to find the energy because we are driven by our own self-desire to achieve it.
Nevertheless, inspiration is still in the top four and is needed for your team to feel encouraged.
The least important quality out of the top four is competence. Of course, we have to remember, it is the top four, so out of all the positive traits, it still ranked highly.
However, more people went for the three above it. Professor Richard Jolly suggests that organisations are slowly starting to move away from the knowledge-based hierarchy. Instead, people want to feel things rather than know things.
Your team want to feel like their work is purposeful, not just know it. Competence is vital because to carry out plans, you need to know what you are doing.
But it appears that people today are more likely to follow leaders that are honest and have a vision. On some level, we are seeing this in society today. Many creators not holding any expertise in their field yet still consulting many customers.
In a world where knowledge is abundant, people want to feel a connection rather than given facts. As I said before, I am not undermining the importance of competence. After all, another way we can trust others is if we know they know.
However, as a leader, maybe putting too much focus on it can cause damage. Your team members want to be connected to emotion. And your vision, honesty and inspiration help them do that.
Call to Action
If you have made it this far, you now know the qualities your team want from you. So do not continue leading the way you were. Instead, change your actions and your approach to suit the four qualities.
I challenge you to sit down and put a strategy together for yourself. Create a plan highlighting how you will ensure you are prioritising the right qualities in your day to day leadership. I am sure this will improve your leadership and your team’s experience.
I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to enrich society by challenging how we do business today to lead to a world of better leaders and opportunities tomorrow.