1. There has to be a shared vision, a shared goal, or a set of shared goals. Ultimately the goal is to lead people where they want to go. Motivation is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.
The first leadership attribute is establishing those shared goals.
This is distinct from communicating the goals assigned by others. The leader facilitates the team establishing its own goals for itself.
Much more can be written about creating shared goals, but in brief the cornerstone will involve an opportunity for all members of the team to weigh in on the goal(s).
2. Shared language is evident with any group, planned or not. Terminology arises that adheres just to the group. Adeptly ensuring shared language transitions that group to a team is a keystone for a leader. The branding, for lack of a better word, of the team can be captured in a brief statement. Examples might be “We Are A Team”, or “Always Improving” or “Positive, Productive, Fresh and Enthusiastic”
Whatever that shared language is, the design is to filter all behaviors through that language; to have the shared language act as, again, the brand of the team. Shared language is the 2nd leadership attribute.
3. Self-confidence, both as an individual and as an expression of faith in one’s colleagues, is symbolic of leadership. Belief in others is enormously powerful. The human brain is social and gregarious- telling others that you believe in them individually and collectively is like giving them a highball of dopamine. Peoples’ neurotransmitters start quivering.
After mistakes, show them we pick ourselves up and try again. We overcome or outweigh every obstacle. In other words, treat them like you believe in them. Henry Ford said something to the effect that whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you are right. Copy Henry Ford and believe you and your colleagues can.
The 3rd leadership attribute is giving your team confidence, infusing positive and productive approaches to everything.
4. Hone your communication skills. That above all means you learn by listening. Listen. Don’t just hear.
This means as well that you have to be visible, deploy MBWA, aka management by walking around. Whether boss or colleague, build relationships. Listen. Get to know people and have them know you.
You also have to sharpen your writing skills,
Much of communications is nonverbal. Look crisp. Always be among the most poised and polished; avoid drama and flamboyance. This isn’t hard folks.
Your presentation skills matter. Even if presenting to just a couple folks, order your comments to most effectively make your point. Beware stream of consciousness. When making an important point, say it twice. When making an important point, say it twice.
A great format whenever making a case for a particular point of view is thesis, antithesis, synthesis. In brief, you make your point with supporting comments, then you confess any significant weakness or objection to your approach, then you wrap up with the conclusion that the thesis holds up notwithstanding the objections.
The 4th Leadership attribute is a refined set of communication skills.
5. The next leadership attribute, another necessary characteristic familiar to most, is a strong work ethic. Modeling what a good teammate does will foster a culture that morphs quickly throughout the team. A good leader makes it cool to work hard. To contribute to the team. To contribute to the win. A good leader is on the dance floor. The good leader stays involved.
6. I led with the implication that one of the leadership characteristics would not be known to you. More appropriately, my sense is that it’s just not something that is considered often. The 6th characteristic of a leader is the deployment of shared experiences. Experiences shared by the team. As importantly, these experiences should be shared by no one else. Either you are on the team or you are not. Not everyone can be on the team, otherwise common bonds break down.
Teams with a shared language and shared experiences are the most likely to embrace shared goals.
The greater the barriers are to shared experiences, the more meaningful they become when they occur. Telecommuting, time zone differences, and other obstacles exist. I will not have an easy answer for every circumstance, but I know that being clever always helps. Not creative. The goal isn’t fun, though that is always a welcome byproduct. The goal is to develop some things, plural, to engage the team collectively. While it is always preferable for shared experiences to be physically together, far-flung organizations have to be addressed too. Somehow, someway, you must develop a theme or an activity or a process to create shared experiences. You are not going to have a close-knit team without hitting that priority somehow.
That’s it. Six leadership attributes; you now know all six of them.