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Pandemic-proof Leadership Characteristics

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of strong organizational leadership. A learning from this time is that the companies “caving” from the pressure of constant unknowns were the ones that lacked strong leadership.

Our Centennial team has had hundreds of conversations with various industry leaders since the pandemic’s start. From these conversations certain leadership characteristics emerged as being especially valuable during 2020’s challenges.

These leadership characteristics will remain important as we move forward this year—and beyond.

  • Excellent communication
  • Teamwork mentality
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Emotional intelligence

Let’s unpack each:

Characteristic #1: Excellent communication

characteristics of a leader

Seek out leaders with characteristics that can handle the unexpected.

This one tops the list because almost everything rides or dies on communication.  The tips below take good communication to great.

  • Be clear. Know the goal of the conversation and work towards achieving that goal.
  • Use simple words. Over-complicated words and unfamiliar acronyms “muck up” ~ Avoid them.
  • Be present. Focus on the conversation and nothing else. (No answering texts or emails!)
  • Ask questions. Ask clarifying questions to be sure you understand what is being said.
  • Listen. Don’t do all the talking. Active listening is a crucial component of communication.

I could go on—but I won’t!  Instead, review these helpful articles:

  1. Effective Communication in the Workplace: How and Why? (This one includes a handy infographic.)
  2. Workplace Communication: 20 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Your Employees. (The stats will make you think.)

Characteristic #2: Teamwork Mentality

Our second characteristic is teamwork.  It cannot be overstated. There is a reason teams win. The best leaders work to bring out the best of each team member.  The team leader also…

  1. …Pitches in wherever they can.
  2. …Dependably delivers, on time, what they committed to doing.
  3. …Knows the strengths of the people on their team—and uses them.

You have probably been on a bad team – they are especially prevalent in school – where 1 or 2 people slack but earn the same credit as everyone else.  (Spoiler alert–slackers do not win in the long run.)

Take that bad team experience and apply it to the team you are on today.  Make sure that you pitch in whenever you can, communicate to the slackers that it is time to step up or step out, and give other team members the opportunity to shine.  It is a work-smart, winning combination.

Characteristic #3: Problem-solving

Problem-solving is often an innate characteristic.  The objective is to see problems as opportunities. If this isn’t you now, there are several things you can do to tap into that bold creativity.

  1. Take a walk. Stepping outside of your work routine can free your mind to think differently and offer a new perception or solution.
  2. Call a mentor. Gain a different perspective from outside of the situation.
  3. Be unafraid of failure. If you are innovating, you will not hit a homerun each time.  Change your mindset toward failure, make corrections and keep moving forward.

A huge component of developing problem-solving leaders is having a culture where failure is ok.  When people feel safe to make mistakes as they try new things, creativity thrives–inspiring the magic of innovation.

Characteristic #4: Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence shows up when life happens.  How do you handle the emotions that accompany life’s curveballs?

Here are some signs of an emotionally intelligent person:

  1. They can laugh at themselves.
  2. They take time to self-reflect and learn from their experiences.
  3. They know when and when not to offer help to others.
  4. They think twice before talking.

This leadership characteristic diffuses workplace drama. It also prevents teams from getting bogged down with minor issues.  Emotionally intelligent people let the little things roll off them.  Additionally, people who are emotionally intelligent are fun to be around because they are positive and mindful of others.

If you are concerned that this isn’t you now, I have a suggestion for the next time a curveball is coming your way:  Breathe.  Yes, breathe—and delay reacting.  That simple step can become a cornerstone of “dealing” in an emotionally intelligent way.

Grit – the Bonus Characteristic

These four “powerhouse” characteristics are impactful when leading others.  When you find someone who possesses these, bring them into leadership.  They will lead themselves and others well.

There is one other characteristic that did not make our top 4 but is worth a mention:  Grit.

Grit is the perseverance to stick out the rough spots.  Sometimes grit means putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward no matter what.  Other times grit is remaining positive in the face of adversity.  Often, grit simply means showing up. Grit builds over time, becoming a leader’s backbone.

The Consequence of Shaky Leadership?

Unfortunately, not all the conversations we have had with leaders over the past year have led to happy endings.  Some leaders did not lead well during 2020’s challenges which lead to damaging results. Leaders lacking the above characteristics created frustration and anxiety in their organizations.  In some instances, employees resigned. In other cases, organizational culture and trust eroded, which may lead to departures later.

Develop a strong foundation for your organization by building it with leaders who are excellent communicators, embody a teamwork mentality, excel at problem-solving, and have a high degree of emotional intelligence.  Throw in some grit, and you’ll have an all-star team that can lead you through any storm.

A shameless plug: if you need help finding those leaders, we would love to partner with you and be your recruiting arm to help you build your high-performing team. Schedule a call!

I have shared our thoughts on top leadership characteristics.  I am curious:  What else do you look for in a top leader?