The most effective leaders know what matters most to employees and put their people first. Their leadership impacts organizational culture and strongly influences employee engagement. And that’s important because poor leadership is one of the most common reasons why employees leave their organizations.
When it comes to being a great people leader, there are many common characteristics. What are they, and how do leaders improve employee engagement?
Let’s explore the 15 signs of a great leader:
1. You are an advocate
Good leaders are people advocates. They excel at connecting people and understanding the needs and concerns of others. Because this builds people’s trust, it makes them fantastic supporters and people managers.
Good leaders also advocate for their vision. They thrive at communicating their ideas and inspiring others to work together in the same direction. Their strong negotiation skills and ability to build relationships help them to influence and motivate others.
2. You know your team
Great leaders invest time in getting to know their teams and showing genuine care for others. They ask about passions, interests, and values. This deeper understanding helps leaders delegate based on employee strengths and development goals, laying the groundwork for professional and personal growth.
3. You offer employee appreciation
The ability and willingness to show genuine employee appreciation is a leadership strength. Knowing how employees prefer to receive appreciation is a sign of a great leader. Whether the recognition is public, private, in-person, or written, successful leaders put a personal touch on employee recognition.
4. You are accountable
Leaders are humans, and even the greatest make mistakes from time to time. Big or small, the most respected leaders hold themselves accountable for their errors. That means they take responsibility instead of blaming others. Not everyone has the courage, but not everyone is a humble leader.
5. You are positive and passionate
Effective leaders set a positive example for others. They are not afraid of challenges; they embrace them and encourage employees to do the same. Passion and positivity are two signs of a great leader. The energy is contagious and motivates others to work hard and give their best daily.
6. You are an active listener
Active listening is also one of the signs of a good leader. It means talking less and listening more. Active listeners observe verbal and nonverbal messages, seek advice, and others trust them. As managers one of the signs of a great leader is showing genuine concern for employees. And when employees believe a manager truly cares, it inspires greater employee engagement.
7. You encourage growth
When most people think about an ideal leader, they imagine someone who encourages training and development. Good leaders love coaching and watching employees find growth. Encouraging growth gives employees a sense of accomplishment. Truly great leaders understand the benefits of investing in their employees.
8. You have vision
Great leaders effectively set direction and inspire others to follow that course. One of the signs of a great leader is a commitment to a single vision. This drive breaks down silos and clarifies for others what they should prioritize and how they should achieve it.
9. You give and receive constructive feedback
Being effective at giving and receiving feedback is a sign of the remaining seven signs of a good leader. The most effective leaders make it a regular practice and encourage those around them to do the same. Offering constructive feedback is how leaders encourage growth in others. Similarly, leaders learn and develop by being open to and receiving constructive feedback.
10. You respect your team
Caring leaders know when to let their employees take a break. Respecting employees’ personal lives promotes employee well-being and minimizes employee burnout. And that’s especially important in today’s world. Top Workplaces research shows that more than one in three employees (38 percent) struggle with burnout. Great leaders ensure employees feel respected and empowered to step back, reset, and return to work with more productive energy.
11. Your team trusts you
It’s not surprising that trust is one of the signs of a good leader. Trust for and from leadership encourages a culture of education, guidance, and support. This process is necessary for personal and organizational development. Talking openly often helps leaders build trust with their employees and find ways to keep supporting them.
Micromanaging is a sign of low trust. If you find yourself nitpicking employees, you must evaluate your trust levels. Improving communication will help your team perform at a higher level and reduce daily stress.
12. You have emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is one of the signs of a great leader that sets them apart from others. It is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions — as well as the emotions of others. Emotionally intelligent leaders are self-aware, which enables them to be more responsive to the needs of others. This quality helps them to create a sense of employee well-being, trust, and loyalty among their teams. It also helps them to lead a more positive and productive workplace culture.
13. You know the difference between leading and managing
Understanding the differences between managing and leading is among the signs of great leaders. Managing refers to the “what” — the day-to-day responsibilities of overseeing the work of a team or organization. The qualities of a good manager include ensuring quality work gets done on time and within budget.
Leading is about the “why.” Great leaders inspire and guide others toward a shared vision or goal. They focus on creating a sense of organizational purpose and motivating others to work towards it. Leaders are also responsible for creating a healthy workplace culture and fostering a shared identity among team members.
14. Others follow your lead
People follow great leaders because they possess certain qualities that inspire trust and confidence. Acting with integrity, a sense of purpose, making difficult decisions, and expressing genuine concern for others are signs of a great leader that others want to follow.
15. You are humble
Being humble is a sign of heightened emotional intelligence. It’s also one of the signs of a great leader. They treat others as equals, recognize they don’t always have the answers and are open to learning from others.
Earn a Top Workplaces Award for Great Leadership
Read more: Companies with great leadership development
Does your company prioritize employee engagement and a people-driven culture? Get recognized for it! Nominate your organization for Top Workplaces, the employee survey and employer recognition program that offers awards in 60+ regional markets and national awards for culture and industry excellence.