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Lessons Learned

4 Traits Of The Best Leaders

If you just delegate and dictate, your leadership style is out of date. These are the leadership skills of the future.

4 Traits Of The Best Leaders
[Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images]

Workplace culture is constantly evolving to meet the needs of new generations of workers as well as new economic demands. In today’s fast-paced, competitive, and mobile world, leaders have more opportunities and greater necessity than ever to engage their workforce.

Guy Parsons and Allan Milham, authors of the new book Out of the Question: How Curious Leaders Win, argue that leaders have to adapt their leadership style in order to keep up with these changing demands. Gone is the draconian leader who sits behind his mahogany desk in the corner office and delegates task after task, and in is the leader who isn’t afraid to show vulnerability and actively solicit input.

Here are four characteristics of today’s great leaders:

1. They Don’t Show Off

Good leaders don’t plaster their credentials all over their walls in order to brag or intimidate their staff. "The currency of, ‘I’m a knower and you can tell that because you look at my credentials’ is outdated," says Parsons. Today’s great leaders don’t care about credentials, but about great ideas, wherever those ideas come from. These leaders check their egos at the door and aren’t afraid to say that they don’t have all the great ideas.

2. They Aren’t Dictators

While the leaders of the past used to be very directive, telling their employees the exact steps to take and giving them a paycheck at the end of the week for following their orders, today’s great leaders have loosened the parameters. "The leader needs to show a willingness to share access to topics that in the past employees weren’t allowed to think about," says Milham. In this style, the leader provides the general direction the team is going in, but asks for input about how to get there.

3. They Encourage Input

Great leaders accept ideas from anyone, regardless of rank. Leaders who take the approach of "you never know where a great idea will come from" are more likely to have a motivated and inspired workforce.

4. They’re Willing To Show Vulnerability

Today’s great leaders aren’t know-it-alls. While in the past, words like weakness and vulnerability were considered taboo, today’s leaders have the ability to say, "I don’t know." "People want to see the humanness in leadership," says Milham. Vulnerability is no longer seen as a negative trait. "A generation ago, we would be judged as an ineffective leader if we said we didn’t know," says Milham. Today, however, people rally around a leader who admits they don’t have the answers and are inspired to help find them.

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