The 4 Leadership Qualities That Make Great Leaders

Why Most Leadership Training Doesn't Create Better Leaders

The rate at which newly promoted managers fail is alarming - and the news gets worse: even if poor managers leave an organization, their legacy is a wake of destruction among the team members they managed. Poor leadership directly impacts employee engagement levels and low levels of engagement are linked to increased turnover, decreased productivity and union organization - all factors that reduce bottom-line profits.

The 4 Leadership Qualities That Make Great Leaders

We are here to help!

Unlock this powerful resource by entering your email below. It's as simple as that! 

Become an Insider and get unlimited access to all of our resources.

By registering you agree to our terms.

The Epidemic of Weak Managerial Skills

In a comprehensive study conducted by the Gallup organization, researchers examined more than 2.5 million manager-led teams and the engagement of their 27 million employees. The results were sobering:

  • Only 30 percent of US workers are engaged in their roles
  • Employees who have highly engaged managers are59 percent more likely to be engaged themselves
  • Managers are responsible for at least 70 percent of the variance in engagement levels
  • 50 percent of employees have left a job due to poor management at some point in their careers
  • Only 35 percent of U.S. managers are engaged in their roles
  • Disengaged managers cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion each year

After reviewing the results of this research, Gallup experts came to a disturbing conclusion: only 10 percent of working people possess the talent to be a great manager... and companies fail to select the right person for leadership roles 82 percent of the time. The cause is simple - most managers are chosen because of their tenure with the organization or their success in previous roles, and not for their leadership skills.

Leadership Qualities That Create a Culture of Leadership Excellence

Creating A Culture of Leadership Excellence

Senior managers and HR professionals have a difficult job when it comes to transforming leadership culture, as the project is two-fold. First, the promotion and hiring process must be refined to ensure the right people are placed in managerial roles. Second, managers must receive the training and development needed to glean new skills.

At its core, the path is simple:

  • Teach Leadership Skills
  • Create Better Leaders
  • Become an Employer of Choice

A commitment to excellence and a comprehensive action plan can impact managers’ effectiveness substantially. The four-point checklist for leader success identifies the critical skills needed for effective management and offers innovative methods for developing talent.

4 Leadership Qualities That Make Excellent Leaders

  1. The Ability To Motivate

    Employees differ in what motivates them to do their best work, with some responding to internal motivation and others requiring external motivation. Strong managers have unique skills in that they can connect with both types of employee, inspiring all team members towards greater achievements through relationships built on trust, morale, and recognition.

    You can spot a good motivator in action because you will see a constant raising of the bar. Motivational leaders challenge themselves and their staff to continuously improve and to deliver exceptional performance. They see the big picture, and they communicate it to their teams. They share their vision for the future, and they inspire staff members to join them in the journey.

    When filling managerial roles, focus on these signs of a strong motivator:

    A track record of taking the initiative outside of work. Did the candidate organize community events or fundraisers? Participate in volunteer activities? Complete a marathon? Staying engaged in the world outside of work - along with encouraging others to join them on the journey - is a promising indication of motivational skill.

    Perspective on failures. A danger sign is a candidate who has no failures. No history of failing means no willingness to push past limits to greater achievements. Examine the perspective of those who do share failures. Are they self-aware? Can they identify their role in why things went wrong? Did they try again after failing the first time? People who are accountable for their failures know they have the ability to influence results - a perspective that is critical in motivating others.

    Teaching motivational skills can be challenging,
    but there are specific steps you can take to improve motivational ability in current managers. The good news is that once you help leaders start the cycle of motivation, achievement, motivation, and greater achievement, it can be self-perpetuating. As teams reap the rewards of their success, they are inspired to work towards greater success.

    Start with this simple exercise across the organization:
    -Each man meets with individual team members to identify one part of their job that inspires them
    -Managers and team members identify one easy-to-achieve, short-term goal, preferably related to the item identified in step one. 
    -Managers encourage team members as they focus on the identified goal.
    -Managers pile on the praise once the goal is achieved.
    -Repeat, selecting a new, slightly more complex goal each time.

  2. The Ability To Provide Support

    Good managers can get things done through people. When staff members are struggling, they don’t step in and complete the task. Instead, they provide any necessary support, removing obstacles that prevent team members from achieving their goals. Of course, there are some prerequisites for providing support successfully.

    Highly skilled leaders can identify current challenges and use creative problem-solving techniques to find solutions. The most talented can look ahead of the current situation to anticipate potential future difficulties so that they can either prevent them or prepare to see the team through them. Related skills include conflict resolution, prioritization, and delegation.

    When interviewing managerial candidates, examine problem-solving skills through real-world “what would you do” scenarios. The situations can be outlandish - “What if you were stuck on a desert island with only these things?” You can also use real examples from your day-to-day business operations. You aren’t measuring right or wrong, as much you are learning more about how the candidate processes information, examines options and makes decisions. Follow this question up with similar scenarios that require problem- solving for an entire team.

  3. Continuous Improvement
    The best leaders don’t stop when they achieve their own goals, and they keep their teams moving forward through continuous improvement. Often, these individuals are lifelong learners, and they are constantly looking for ways to increase efficiency, streamline production and improve quality standards. Most importantly, they inspire team members to adopt these same principles so that the entire group is constantly updating skills and elevating performance.

    Related skills include an ability to provide feedback effectively, a coaching mentality, strong ethical standards and an understanding of change management techniques. Managers who want employees working towards continuous improvement must also be secure enough to share their knowledge. Any hint of fear that a team member’s success threatens a manager’s confidence will destroy momentum towards improvement.

  4. The Ability To Make Connections
    Workers don’t usually abandon their employers; they leave their managers. Conversely, when employees are engaged with their team and connected with their managers, they stay in their roles. They are confident that they can grow and develop within the organization, and they trust their leaders to provide appropriate recognition for their achievements.

    Excellent managers make these meaningful connections with their team members, building trust over time. They listen, they create opportunities for conversation, and they effectively manage crisis communication. Employees regard such managers as coaches and mentors rather than task-masters.

    Spend time talking with candidates about their communication and feedback philosophies. Understand whether they are open to 360-feedback, or if they expect to be obeyed with no questions asked. Inquire about how individuals handle situations when they don’t know anyone. For example, at a cocktail party, do they jump into conversations with strangers, or do they stick close to the host? How the candidate makes connections with others is an important indicator of managerial skills.

    Organizations that focus on these four skills when hiring and developing managers gain a competitive edge. They rapidly become an employer of choice, attracting and retaining top talent. Their reputation, also known as their employer brand, precedes them into the labor market, ensuring that the most skilled candidates are anxious to apply for open positions.

Leadership Training Solutions To Make Better Leaders

Solutions To Address Leadership Development Needs For Your Organization 

If You:

  • Have leaders that thrive on interaction with each other
  • Have leaders that learn best through role play
  • Believe that teachers need to interact with students


LEAD Academy leadership training program

Then in-person or hybrid virtual leadership development is the right solution for your organization!

LEAD Academy offers you a choice of 22 half-day modules in specific content areas that include personal development, development of others, and supporting the organization. These sessions are available for leadership teams ranging in size from 12 to 25, in a structured curriculum, as individual units or combined and tailored to meet your organization’s unique leadership development needs.

With LEAD Academy, you’ll minimize PowerPoints and presentation time, and maximize individual and group engagement for maximum interactivity and lesson retention. In-person sessions require a skilled facilitator, participant workbooks, and supporting materials. You’ll also get role-play scenarios, job aids, videos,

self assessments, and sustainability pieces to create memorable learning experiences with each session.

Virtual LEAD Academy experiences include many of the same elements, without having to gather your leaders in one physical location. Sessions are highly interactive and led via video conferencing.

If You:

  • Have leadership teams that are geographically divers
  • Are looking for alignment and consistency in the way your leaders lead
  • Need to improve employee relations with "soft skills"


A Better Leader Leadership Training Software

Then monthly themed online leadership development is the right solution for your organization!

A Better Leader provides powerful monthly training that reduces legal liability, improves productivity and motivation and strengthens leadership teams. You have the ability to choose from over 3 year’s worth of leadership development topics in four focus areas: Motivate, Support, Connect and Improve.

With A Better Leader, you’ll create distinguished and celebrated leaders that positively impact retention rates and can help you build a culture of engagement. From your dashboard, you’ll choose the lessons that will resonate with your leaders, and schedule them out, up to a year in advance! Leaders will have access to a new video lesson, online quiz, downloables, and leadership development experts on your chosen topic!

Take your leadership development a step further by discussing your monthly theme in additional in-person meetings. With done- for-you lessons, it’s easy to continue your leadership development conversations!

If You:

  • Need leaders to understand that maintaining a direct connection with team members is part of their job
  • Are concerned about possible union organizing
  • Aren't sure how to protect your company from Unfair Labor Practice Charges


Laborwise Leadership Labor Relations Training Program

Then a labor-relations focused eLearning course is the right solution for your organization!

LaborWise Leadership is self-paced online training that begins by helping you teach your leaders the power of the positive, helping supervisors realize the power of their influence and how they can meet employee needs. Basic, proactive union-proofing concepts are introduced. Next, you leaders get to dig deep into today’s approach to labor relations, including online organizing, the importance of good communication and legal do’s and don’ts.

Available on desktop, tablet and even right on their phone, eachLaborWise Leadership lesson is under 5 minutes in length, and your leaders can stop and restart whenever needed - LaborWise will hold their place. Plus, measure the effectiveness of your training with your Pro-Panel Dashboard. The Dashboard provides the results of your supervisors’ pre-test and the final exam. You’ll know exactly how your leaders are progressing!

LaborWise Leadership is available as stand-alone eLearning, as facilitator-led classroom materials or as SCORM-compliant files you can host your company’s LMS. Once all supervisors have completed the course, you can foster an environment of mutual respect and collaboration, creating a culture where unions just aren’t needed.

If You:

  • Have provided your leaders with labor basics
  • Need union-avoidance refresher training
  • Want to put knowledge into action with role-play scenarios


WiseWords Labor Relations Role-Play Training for Employees

Then an interactive labor-relations role-play eLearning course is the right solution for your organization!

If one of your employees approaches their supervisor and says, “My neighbor works down the street - where they just got a union - and now she’s making 75 cents an hour more! I think a union could really help us out around here, what do you think?” Would your front line leader know what to say?

WiseWords puts your supervisors into these difficult situations, and prepares them to answer real-world questions, by practicing their responses. WiseWords focuses your training on what leaders need to know to stay within the boundaries of the law (even before a union campaign begins) and keep team members union-free. Leaders learn step by step how to address concerns, answer questions, and support your direct connections.

Supervisors begin by talking with employees: five learning scenarios kick off the training - do your leaders know what to say? Then, you’ll refresh them on the rules: make sure TIPS and FOE aren’t
just rhetoric, here, your front-line leaders will put the rules into practice. Finally, with dozens of additional role-play conversations, you’ll teach your leaders to stay within the law, and answer with confidence. Additional WiseWords resources help your leaders understand employee rights, authorization cards and how to craft their own Personal Opinion Statement.

WiseWords is powerful stand-alone training, but also acts as refresher training once leaders have the basics. Use it weeks, months or even as much as a year after LaborWise Leadership to maximize impact, retention, and behavioral change.

Download a PDF Version of This Valuable Content

The 4 Leadership Qualities That Make Great Leaders

Next Steps

This four-point checklist, and the included resources for leader success identify the critical skills needed for effective management and offer you innovative methods for developing leadership talent. A lot is happening in the leadership development and employee training arena today, driven by technology, the increased size of the remote worker population, new generations of workers, and advances in brain science.

The trends shaping leadership training continue to change, as most senior executives recognize the importance of developing leadership talent. However, when their leadership development efforts aren’t connected to their business goals, they’re prevented from identifying and enacting wise strategies. A custom leadership development strategy is needed to unleash the potential of individuals and groups throughout the organization if they are to achieve success.

For many years, employee training and development was not viewed as something to embed throughout the organization from top to bottom. Leadership training went to existing leaders moving up the corporate leadership ladder. Employee training was devoted to specific hard skills training. Many employees promoted into entry-level supervisor positions were not prepared for the transition. At the same time, the training and development goals for leaders and employees were not aligned with business goals.

Today, we’re in a Proactive Era of employee and labor relations, and that means leadership development is woven into the fabric of a holistic approach to managing our workforce. We encourage you to gather all the information you can to find the solutions that are a perfect fit for your organization’s leader development strategy. That may mean in-person training, virtual training or a hybrid of the two. It may mean “soft skills” or focused labor relations skills. I might even mean role-play to put knowledge into action.

The important thing is to get started on your strategy. The IRI Consultants team can support you in evaluating your current state and determining the best resources to move your organization forward. We invite you to reach out to discuss your needs.