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The Top Ranked Competencies That Employees Look for in a Leader

Being a leader comes with its challenges.

You’re pulled in one hundred different directions in one day (#nosweat) and you’re trying to understand each employee on a personal level so your mutual work can benefit. But it’s not always easy to tell. Susie in Sales does well with direct, blunt communication, while Ross the Developer prefers to communicate quite simply only over email. Jane from Department X is going through a divorce and Jim from Department Y just welcomed his first child into the world. Professional environments are strung together by complex emotions, experiences, and perspectives.

As a leader, it can be difficult to cut through all of that noise and understand what people need on a base level. Benefits? Culture? To be pushed and challenged? To be encouraged and supported? Here are the top areas where leaders need to excel in for employees (and the entire organization) to be healthy (as studied by Harvard Business Review):

1. Being ethical and sticking to it

67% of individuals stated this as the number one factor for solid leadership. Clearly conveying a strong moral compass helps to create a safe environment, garrisoned with trust and fairness. If you practice what you preach and are consistent, your employees will know that you’ll play by the rules, won’t throw anyone under the bus, and will give credit where credit is due. Communicate your values and stick to them and you’ll create an environment of safety and trust.

2. Being organization and goal-focused

Employees need direction, but not too much of it. When the leader has the blueprint of the entire plan, but allows employees to take their specific parts and run with it, everyone benefits. You’ve often heard that nobody likes a micro-manager, and it’s true. 59% of employees want a leader who’s the overall organizer, but they want autonomy to play their part and organize their own pieces.

3. Communication

Communicating expectations was rated as the third highest important leadership competency (56%), and “communicating openly and often” was ranked sixth out of ten (42%). Having open, honest dialogue with your employees shows not only what you can contribute, but what they can contribute as well. It shows that everyone’s opinion is respected, as well as their time and effort by communicating expectations.

4. Commitment to growth and progression

Nurturing growth and ensuring others are progressing in their skills (and careers) is vital. When you teach someone something or allow them to grow on their own, it creates a bond of appreciation and loyalty. The old adage “a person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected” rings true here; employees who are encouraged to grow will work harder and better than stifling environments. Having an environment that encourages growth also means accepting failure gracefully and being “open to new ideas and approaches.”

Here is how Harvard Business Review broke down and interpreted their data, from 195 leaders in 15 different countries:

Peter Reek

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