There are bosses/supervisors/managers (insert your term of choice here) and then there are leaders. Sometimes they are one in the same but not always. Just because someone is a good manager doesn't necessarily mean they are an effective leader in the truest definition of the word.
Knowing what makes a good leader is important for a number of reasons. These are the traits to look for when hiring new team members for your company. They can also help you narrow down your list of prospective mentors or advisors. Or, you can refer to this list if you're trying to improve your own leadership skills, because while some people may innately possess these traits, they can also be learned.
This is far from a complete list, but here are 7 definite signs of a true leader:
1. They Make Decisions
This may seem obvious, but a lot of people, even those in positions of authority, can be terrible at making decisions. This doesn't necessarily mean that they make bad decisions, but they may suffer from analysis paralysis, or be wishy-washy, making decisions then immediately take it back and make another one.
2. They Speak out
They notice injustices and take the appropriate steps to get them righted. If they disagree with a procedure or policy they don't just grumble about it under their breaths, they will speak with those who made the decision in an an attempt to either understand why a decision was made or try to get it reversed.
3. They Know Who They Are Leading
I don't mean this as in they know names and how many people they are supposed to lead, but they know each team member's strengths and weaknesses. They know whom to delegate specific tasks,
4. They Give Credit Where It's Due
They highlight their team members' hard work when a goal is met or an important task is accomplished. This also means they don't play favorites and don't unduly take credit themselves if it was a team effort.
5. They Ask the Right Questions
They don't make assumptions but ask clear yet concise questions when there is confusion. They also question processes if they think there is room for improvement. They know that just because something has been done one way for a long time doesn't mean there isn't a way to do it better.
6. They Respect Peoples' Time and Lives
They are not routinely late to meetings and they also don't schedule unnecessary meetings. They also don't demand an unreasonable time commitment – knowing that their team members have lives outside of work and that maintaining a balance is critical to employee satisfaction.
7. They Share Information
There is no paranoia around who knows what. Good leaders realize that transparency with certain information gives others a sense of ownership, which leads to more committed work. Obviously there times when information should not be shared, and good leaders will know that too.