What makes an ideal leader?

Australian employees have got a clear idea about what they value in leaders, and it might not be what you think.

What makes an ideal leader?

Finding the right team leader isn’t an easy task. On the whole, most organisations will find their ranks filled with diverse personalities, making it hard to pin down exactly what characteristics their employees look for and admire in their superiors.

A recent study from McCrindle Research that surveyed 586 employees demonstrated ‘competence’ as the number-one trait sought after in a leader.

“An effective leader is someone who can communicate rationally, connect relationally, manage practically and lead directionally,” the report stated. Leaders should have an understanding of emotion and connection, as well as being grounded in knowledge and information.

Despite the shift to more autonomous workers, leadership remains an important factor in organisations. Thirty-eight per cent of respondents stated leadership and management defines the success of a business. “An organisation by definition is a collective and so we need to manage a collective,” Shaun McCarthy, chairman of Human Synergistics, told HC.

In addition to competence, other qualities most Australian workers value in their leaders are (in order from most to least); ambition, broad-mindedness, caring and cooperation.

The study found that most Australians (57%) preferred team participation and ownership over leadership authority. However, only 3% stated they wished for low leadership involvement, indicating a drive towards workplaces with strong leaders who are open to ideas and will work with their team.

Generating work environments with these leaders and teams falls back on the process of leadership training within an organisation.

McCarthy feels leadership training should be pushed through all facets of an organisation, and employees – especially younger ones – should be led by their peers. “You need to get people in leadership positions at a much younger age and understand how a team works,” he stated. “People don’t want to put late 20s in charge of 20-year-olds – why not? They are of the same social dynamic, they understand each other.”

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