Leaders who want to make a lasting impact on their organization should strive for proactive, rather than reactive, leadership. Reactive leaders wait for problems to arise before addressing them, are often scuttling from crisis to crisis, without taking away lessons for improving the organizations and processes in which they operate.
Proactive leaders, on the other hand, take responsibility for their management roles by engaging and cooperating with their team, leading by example, and always looking for ways to improve. Whether you’re middle or top-level management, forward-thinking leadership is the best way to manage.
The following actions and qualities are inherently valuable for proactive leaders:
1. They Think Long Term
Leaders should be able to step back from the day-to-day details and see the big picture. They should also be able to plan more than a few months ahead of time, and see the trajectory they wish to take their organization in the years to come. A strong vision and plan for the long-term will help guide the direction of short term projects.
2. They Inspire Others
There are all sorts of reasons people perform their jobs well – pay incentives, accountability, the satisfaction of a job well done. Inspirational leaders are another strong incentive. Leaders who are enthusiastic, work hard, and communicate their vision to employees are much more likely to have a strong, dedicated staff than leaders who lacks these qualities.
3. They Are Great Listeners and Communicators
Strong communication skills are essential to effective leadership. Employees need to feel that their opinions, feedback, and ideas are both heard and evaluated. In addition, clear communication is valuable because it causes less uncertainty. Leaders who can effectively communicate will find less hand-wringing among indecisive staff members.
Of course, the ability to talk about things other than work can’t hurt, either. Staff will be appreciative of leaders they feel they know on a personal level.
4. They are Highly Organized
Leaders have a lot on their plate – and leaders who plan ahead have an inherent need to keep on top of everything, rather than wait for a crisis to happen. Outstanding organization skills are necessary to keep on top of both long term goals and daily needs. However they handle it – with executive assistants, excel spreadsheets, or advanced goal tracking tools like Envisio – effective leaders stay organized.
5. They have Great Problem Solving Skills
Leaders deal with problems all day long – anyone in management should know that problem-solving is part of the job description. Leaders who plan ahead are in a better position to tackle problems before they occur instead of reactively when they pop up unexpectedly. Thinking outside of the box can come in handy – because most problems don’t come with instruction manuals.
6. They Seek Advice and Help When Required
Most leaders are knowledgeable and educated on their industries and organizations, but no one can know everything. Effective leaders don’t arrogantly try to force their way into projects or areas they don’t understand. Instead, they seek advice and help from colleagues and staff to increase their knowledge and get projects done.
7. They are Compassionate, Loyal, Integrity-Filled Attitude
Employees will find it difficult to work hard for someone they don’t respect. Leaders can earn that respect by backing up their subordinates when needed, making decisions that are ethically and morally responsible, and being kind and compassionate toward others in the work place. Leaders can’t expect others to exhibit these qualities if they don’t lead by example.
8. They have a Calm Demeanor
Great leaders don’t panic at the onset of trouble. Instead, they make calm and rational decisions that align with the strategy of their business. Keeping cool under pressure isn’t just a born personality trait. The behavior can be learned and built through “trial by fire” scenarios. However this characteristic is gained, it’s important, because action through deliberation is more likely to find success than emotional decision-making.
9. They Know How to Utilize Team Strengths
By necessity, effective leaders should know the strengths and weaknesses of their team members, so they can quickly delegate tasks to the right person. This is not to say that employees should never try anything new, or learn a skill that was previously foreign to them. However, when a quick turnaround time is needed, effective leaders should already know the right person who can be trusted to get the job done quickly and correctly.
10. They Take Criticism Well
Effective leaders are always willing to build their skill set and learn from mistakes. A crucial part of this practice is the ability to take constructive criticism. Feedback, both positive and negative, is an extremely important tool in improving future processes. Leaders should be thick-skinned, but able to learn from criticism of their work and leadership tactics.
Which characteristic of proactive leadership do you or someone you know have?
The secret to highly effective leadership is a well defined and executed strategic plan that properly aligns departments on common goals within an organization. To learn more, schedule a free demo with one of our strategy experts to learn how Envisio can help you align and engage your team with your strategic plan.