7 signs of leadership effectiveness


“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

—Jack Welch

This quote from Jack Welch is a great description of leadership effectiveness. The most effective leaders are human-focused. Instead of focusing on their own growth, a great leader knows how to identify, affirm, and nurture the skills of others.

On the morning of a big meeting, two key team members call in sick. You: 

According to research conducted by HRD Connect, surveys found that “effective leadership results in increased employee happiness, engagement, and retention rates.” Additional studies conducted by Gallup found that an engaged workforce leads to 17% higher productivity, a 10% increase in customer ratings, a 20% increase in sales, and 21% greater profitability. The health of a company stems from the health of its team; the health of the team stems from good leadership.

If you dig into the details of what motivates employees, the results are even more revealing. In their Global Culture Report, O.C. Tannerdid a deep dive into the results of traditional corporate leadership (i.e. numbers-focused, established and pragmatic methods, non-relational) vs. the results of contemporary leadership styles (i.e. relational, people-focused, empathetic, focused on the input, creativity, and innovation of each team member). While the misconception that human-centric leadership hurts the bottom line is still held by many of today’s businesses, the data says otherwise. According to respondents of the study, employees working in traditional workplaces stated that “only 26% feel their leader encourages collaboration. More than one-half say their leader won’t give up control over anything. Only 59% believe their leader values them.” In fact, traditional leadership/workplaces saw losses in every category of company culture, including:

  • -20% sense of purpose

  • -33% engagement

  • -58% in great work

  • And, interestingly, -84% odds of growing revenue

The only areas that are seeing growth under traditional leadership styles are burnout and lay-offs, which are, of course, the only categories in which you don’t want to see growth. It’s clear that in today’s workplaces, a more contemporary leadership mindset is necessary.

Managers vs Leaders 

Among the most commonly held misunderstandings in the structure of a healthy business is the idea that managers and leaders are the same. In truth, these roles are not synonymous. The essential qualities and skills of managers and leaders often intersect, but here are the key differences:

Leadership effectiveness is grounded in core traits that are often deemed “softer” than you may expect. As such, a human-centric role requires that you

  • Empower your team by identifying each individual’s strengths, affirming those strengths, and giving them opportunities to use them (even if they occasionally fail)

  • Inspire your employees by vividly expressing your company’s mission, investing in its culture, and leading by example

  • Present a vision that is clear, motivating, and accessible for a diverse team of individuals

  • Lead through change by coaching, building trust in times of uncertainty, providing feedback, and offering clear direction.

Instead of a purely organizational skill set like those valued under traditional leadership models, the signs of good leadership in a modern business include empathy and active listening.

In contrast to leadership, managerial roles involve the implementation of organizational processes. This includes problem solving, delegating, and maintaining the day-to-day operations that make up an organization’s structure.

While the leader is a visionary person that asks the “what” and “why”, managers are usually asking “how” and “when”. They have an ability to direct, address concerns quickly, and diffuse crisis situations.

Although the roles of leaders and managers may vary, the best managers also possess leadership skills. A leader can be anyone with leadership qualities, not necessarily always someone in a position of authority, but leadership effectiveness is especially important for those in authoritative roles.

What about you? How do you respond as a leader in the face of obstacles? Take the short quiz below and let us know how you would respond!

7  Signs of Leadership  Effectiveness

When you reflect on what makes a good leader, what traits quickly come to mind? We have found that a coaching mindset is at the heart of all great leadership. Coaching behaviors have a proven track record of effectiveness with teams in every industry, and no person of authority in an organization should leave these traits undeveloped. 

These 7 signs of good leadership are the foundation that every leader/coach should build from:

1. Communicate: The ability to communicate clearly, tactfully, and consistently is important for any human relationship, and leadership is no exception. As a leader, learning how to have better conversations is one of the best things you can do for your team.

2. Model Behavior: Your words are not the only important way that you communicate with your team. By modeling the behavior you want to see in the rest of your team, you set an example for them to watch and follow. Perhaps the most effective way to instill your company’s desired culture and ethos in others is to first adhere to it yourself. Actions do speak louder than words!

3. Empathize: This characteristic is one that employees value highly in a leader. Showing empathy builds trust, softens and deepens communication, and makes your team members feel valued. Empathy combines well with active listening skills to show someone that you hear them and care about what they have to say.

4. Embrace Change: Anyone in a leadership or managerial role can tell you: change is par for the course in the business world. The past several years alone have seen wild changes as the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to remote work left many businesses scrambling. Leaders need to be able to embrace change, adapt to it quickly, and communicate changes clearly and confidently to team members.

5. Delegate: Delegating has the double benefit of helping you to spread out your bandwidth and engage employees in new opportunities. Leaders that insist on handling everything themselves risk burnout, and simultaneously fail to capitalize on the talents of their team.

6. Learn: The best coaches are, themselves, coachable. An effective leader will constantly be learning things from peers, their team, and coaches in their own lives.

7. Inspire: An organization’s leaders are a necessity for inspiring team members to grow and move forward. A leader must cast a clear vision and encourage team members to embrace that vision in unison.

Setting Leaders Up for Success 

Dart board referencing leadership success

If you’re looking at these leadership traits and are unsure if you’ve truly honed these skills, don’t worry! These skills can be learned and deepened with proper coaching. Many leaders already have the basic skills they need and are just inches away from unlocking new levels of leadership growth.

We created our Leader as Great Coach program for exactly this purpose! We help leaders reach their fullest potential, build on their strengths, and sharpen their skills to become more effective coaches. Partner with us and discover the full extent of your leadership potential!

Learn more about this dynamic program, Leader as Great Coach.

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