What Makes a Great Leader?

Natalie Koh 19.06.2019

As a specialist recruiter at Morgan McKinley who specialises in mid-senior leadership positions, I meet with commercial leaders on a daily basis. One common topic that comes up frequently is about leadership.

Every business from large corporate MNCs to hyper growth startups are constantly seeking for leaders who have strong competencies and the ability to lead, manage and develop a high performing team. However, what makes a great leader? 

The following top 7 attributes are some common ones that leaders in the market identified with: 

Start by Understanding Your Leadership Style 

By understanding your leadership style, you would know how to manage your stressors best and be able to cater to your team needs and adjust your technique along the way but be mindful not to lose authenticity. As Aristotle puts it, "Man, know thyself." Know the fashion of leadership you are going to use and be conversant with the best way you can put it to use. If you do not understand the way you are going to lead, then you are mostly better off being led. Study your personality and determine the leadership style that best suits you. 

Serve As a Role Model 

They walk the walk and talk the talk. As a result, group members admire these leaders and work to emulate these behaviors. Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall. Be the kind of leader people would look up to, just as you are following in the footsteps of the person you admire the most. 

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Listen and Communicate Effectively 

By keeping the lines of communication open, these leaders can ensure that group members feel able to make contributions and receive recognition for their achievements. Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room. Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions. They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.

Promoting Your Vision

There’s nothing as powerful as a man with a vision; a man with drive. Keep a clear vision of where your organization is going in front of your people on a daily basis. When you do, they’re not only more motivated but also more effective since their work stays connected to your shared strategic goals. Always keep your followers up to date with developments, especially the ones related to your end goal. Use positive reinforcement to remind yourself where you are headed and what you are out to achieve. 

Make Decisions 

Successful leaders are expert decision makers. They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves. They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision-making activities that sustain progress. Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum. Acting decisively. Good leadership means controlling any impulse toward impatience and reactivity on the one hand, and overthinking and delay on the other. They work to ensure that their understanding of the problem is complete, then take strong action and never look back.  

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Measure & Reward Performance 

Great leaders always have a steady “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, but they are also active in acknowledging hard work and efforts, no matter the results. Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them. The people under you need to know that you see and recognize their hard work. Be the leader that appreciates. 

Positive Energy & Attitude

Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture. They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action. As such, they are likable, respected, and strong-willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum. Of course, there will be trials and troubles, but the mark of a true leader is being able to stay filled with positive energy and tackle situations with the right attitude. Problems are bound to come, but nothing should make you lose your cool and become unsighted by trivialities and impermanence. 

No one is perfect, but that does not mean we should stop working to be better than we were yesterday. The great leaders I know are constantly learning and improving themselves every day. As one who is working towards the goal of being a leader one day, I’m always keen to hear from leaders who have great advise for the next generation of leaders! 

If you are keen to know more about your opportunity, feel free to reach out to me at my contact details below. 

Natalie Koh - R1547781's picture
Senior Consultant | Sales & Marketing


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