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Serving as a leader of a company is not just about occupying a high position in the corporate hierarchy; it is about leading and inspiring people to achieve greatness. Starting a business is hard enough, but to be the leader people want to follow, one must possess a unique set of qualities that go beyond technical expertise. There are key characteristics and practices that can transform an ordinary leader into an exceptional leader, able to inspire and motivate his team to success.
In the ever-evolving landscape of leadership theories and styles, the presence of quiet and hard-working leaders is a characteristic that has consistently attracted employees. While charismatic and assertive leaders can turn heads through grand gestures and bold statements, it’s the humble leaders who often leave a lasting impression on their teams. The following are just a few reasons why employees are attracted to such leaders, highlighting the benefits they bring to their respective companies.
Related: 12 character traits that exceptional entrepreneurial leaders have in common
Why employees are drawn to quiet and humble leaders
Authenticity and Trust: Quiet and humble leaders tend to foster an environment of authenticity and trust within their teams. They eschew self-promotion and instead focus on building real bonds with their employees. By showing vulnerability, admitting mistakes and listening actively, these leaders create an atmosphere where employees feel valued and valued. The resulting trust enables employees to feel safe to express their ideas, take risks and contribute to the overall success of the organization.
Empathy (emotional intelligence): These business leaders often have a high degree of emotional intelligence. They are adept at understanding and dealing with the emotions, needs and challenges of their team members. Through active listening and open communication, they create an environment that encourages open dialogue and collaboration. Employees value leaders who genuinely care about their well-being. This promotes a sense of belonging and promotes a positive work culture.
Recognition and development: Unlike their spotlight-seeking counterparts, quiet and humble leaders focus on recognizing and developing the strengths of their employees. They understand that success is a collective effort and are committed to recognizing the contributions of their team members. These leaders empower their employees, provide them with opportunities for growth and development, and actively support their career development. By prioritizing their employees’ growth, they inspire loyalty and commitment, resulting in higher job satisfaction and retention rates.
Effective communication and collaboration: Top managers excel in their ability to communicate effectively and foster collaboration within their teams. They prioritize active listening, which allows them to gather insights and perspectives from different team members. By encouraging open and honest communication, they create an environment where ideas are freely exchanged and diverse points of view are valued. This approach not only encourages creativity and innovation, but also leads to better decision making as multiple perspectives are considered.
Decreased ego (team-oriented mindset): When leaders let the work speak for itself, they learn to prioritize team success over personal recognition. They are not driven by ego or a need for personal glory. Instead, they embrace a team-oriented approach, emphasizing collective performance rather than individual performance. They don’t have to have their name on a marquee, instead choosing to share successes with their company and the contributing teams. This selfless attitude resonates with employees who value a sense of unity, collaboration and a shared purpose. It creates a supportive environment that encourages collaboration, mutual respect and teamwork.
While charismatic and assertive executives may initially attract attention, it is the quiet and humble leaders who inspire deep respect and loyalty from their employees. Through authenticity, empathy, effective communication and a team-oriented mindset, these leaders create an environment where individuals thrive while contributing to the overall success of the organization.
Being drawn to such leaders puts employees in workplaces that value them, recognize their efforts, and provide opportunities for growth and development. As organizations (and startups) continue to evolve, the demand for these types of leaders is likely to increase, reinforcing their importance in fostering a positive and productive work environment.
Related: The 5 Worst Traits A Business Leader Can Have (Infographic)
How to be a leader people want to follow
But how can business leaders essentially light a fire in their employees? Below are just six simple ways to lead by example and traits that quiet and humble leaders exude to continue to run their businesses effectively, efficiently, and with empathy.
Visionary Leadership: A leader people want to follow is one who has a clear and compelling vision for the future of the organization. They have the ability to articulate this vision in a way that resonates with the employees, giving them a sense of purpose and direction. By painting a vivid picture of what success looks like, they inspire others to share their passion and actively work towards achieving the company’s goals.
Transparency: Authenticity is a crucial quality for any leader. A leader who is sincere and transparent creates an atmosphere of trust and openness. By fostering a culture of transparency, they encourage open communication, honest feedback and constructive criticism. People feel valued when their ideas and opinions are taken into consideration, leading to increased involvement and a sense of responsibility for the success of the organization.
Strong communication skills: Effective communication is essential for a leader to inspire and motivate his teams. They must be adept at communicating their vision, goals and expectations clearly and concisely. A good leader is an excellent listener, encourages open dialogue and creates space for collaboration and innovation. By promoting effective communication channels, they ensure that every member of the organization feels heard and understood, creating a sense of belonging and shared purpose.
Adaptability: Regardless of one’s place in the business world, effective leaders are always learning. In today’s fast-paced business landscape, a leader people want to follow is one who demonstrates a commitment to lifelong learning and personal growth. They stay abreast of industry trends, emerging technologies and best practices. They encourage their team members to develop skills and provide them with growth opportunities. Establishing a culture of learning shows that they are invested in the success of their employees, increasing loyalty and commitment.
Lead by example: Leadership is not about giving orders from above; it’s about leading by example. A leader who wants to inspire others must embody the values and behaviors they expect from their team. By demonstrating integrity, resilience and a strong work ethic, they set the standard for excellence within the organization. Leading by example creates a culture of accountability and inspires employees to strive for greatness.
Rewarding Success: The emphasis on the importance of recognizing and appreciating their team’s performance makes employees want to follow leaders. They recognize the efforts of individuals and teams and openly celebrate success. By providing meaningful recognition and rewards, leaders reinforce a culture of excellence and motivate employees to consistently perform at their best.
Related: 9 reasons why humility is the key ingredient to exceptional leadership
Becoming the leader people want to follow requires a combination of leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and a genuine commitment to the well-being, both professional and personal, of their employees.
By embracing visionary leadership, authenticity, empathy and continuous learning, leaders can inspire their teams to reach new heights. By cultivating a work culture of open communication, leading by example and acknowledging success, they create an environment where employees feel valued, motivated and empowered.