Leadership is a complex and ever-evolving topic of study. While many different leadership styles and theories exist, researchers have found that specific key characteristics are common among successful and effective leaders. These so-called "Conscious Leaders" possess a unique combination of skills and traits that allow them to easily navigate the challenges of leadership.
The Bright Spot project is a research initiative that partly identified these key characteristics to help develop more Conscious Leaders. By understanding these traits, we can develop more effective leaders who can positively impact their organisations and the world.
In this blog post, we explore each of the seven behaviours in detail and provide tips for how you can develop them in yourself. So, if you want to step up your leadership game, read on!
1. They see you
Leadership is an essential skill that everyone in a work environment should possess. Leaders can see their subordinates, manage groups effectively, and understand what motivates and inspires those they lead. In the results of Project Bright Spot, it was found that 92% of respondents reported feeling "seen" by their most supportive and positive leaders.
They felt that their voices were being heard and that they felt safe enough in their work environment to be vulnerable. This inclusivity, sense of trust and understanding is essential for any leader-subordinate relationship as it allows for mutual respect, collaboration and a healthier workplace. By taking the time to see those they lead, Conscious Leaders can create an environment in which everyone feels valued and inspired to do their best work.
2. They have your back
What separates a good leader from a great one? The ability to set the destination while also being able to relinquish the map. This may seem counterintuitive, but it's a very effective leadership strategy. Allowing team members to think more freely, express themselves and collaborate more effectively builds trust and creates an environment where everyone can do their best work.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you shouldn't provide direction or hold people accountable — quite the opposite. Conscious Leaders use transparency and direction to create a safe space for honest dialogue and co-creation. So if you want to be a great leader, start by being an advocate for your team. Listen to their ideas, give them the space to grow and learn, and watch as they blossom into confident, high-performing individuals.
3. They are present
Being an effective leader requires more than just having a few good qualities. It's also about being present in the moment and using your surroundings to inform your decisions. Good leaders are always aware of what is happening around them. They can read people and situations, and use this information to make decisions that will benefit the greater good.
Being conscious of your surroundings also allows you to be more responsive to changes as they happen. This doesn't mean that you have to be perfect or always make the right decision, but it does mean that you need to be able to adapt on the fly and make decisions quickly. You can only do this if you are fully present in the moment. So if you want to be a good leader, start by being more aware of your surroundings and tuning into what is happening around you.
4. They are not afraid of challenge
One leadership skill that sets Conscious Leaders apart is their willingness to be challenged. They are comfortable with disruption and understand that it is often necessary for growth and development. This doesn't mean they are constantly seeking out conflict but are willing to engage in difficult conversations when the situation calls for it.
Their self-awareness allows them to have humility and resilience when things don't go according to plan. This doesn't mean that they are perfect, but rather that they are fallible and honest. As a result, they are more human and more relatable. This leadership quality allows them to connect with people deeper, ultimately making them better leaders.
5. They stretch you
Leaders who stretch their teams inspire growth and learning while increasing team members' resilience. To do this, they must be aware of the capabilities of their people and have the vision to see potential that others may not recognise. They must also be willing to take risks, giving people new challenges and opportunities and reassessing their leadership methods.
This allows team members to develop new skills and navigate difficult situations, which are essential for long-term success. Ultimately, leaders who stretch their teams provide an invaluable service: they expand the horizons of what is possible for individuals and the team.
6. They trust you
Leadership is an influential process. Good leaders can build trust within their teams by delegating tasks, showing vulnerability, and being transparent. Doing so creates an environment where team members feel safe to take risks, express their ideas, and work together to achieve common goals. Leaders who trust their team are also more likely to be trusted by their team.
This mutual trust creates a strong foundation for effective leadership and successful teamwork. Trusting your team is just one of the many important characteristics of a good leader. Trust is essential for building an effective and cohesive team. When team members feel trusted by their leader, they are more likely to take the initiative and be creative in their work. In turn, this can lead to better results for the team.
7. They set clear direction
One of the most essential characteristics of a good leader is the ability to set a clear direction. A leader who can clearly articulate their goals and vision for the future is much more likely to garner support from those they lead. Furthermore, clear direction enables Conscious Leaders to make better decisions in the present moment.
When the path ahead is uncertain, a good leader can provide guidance and inspire confidence in those they lead. In short, the ability to set clear direction is essential for any leader who wants to be successful.
Insights on the 7 key behaviours of leaders
Leadership is often thought of as a position, or title one holds, but the most influential leaders have developed the skills and characteristics to inspire and motivate those around them. The best leaders unlock energy and sustained performance in their teams by connecting with their people on a human, individual level.
They are conscious of the impact their words and actions have on others, and they use this awareness to create a positive work environment where people feel valued and appreciated. People are more likely to be engaged and motivated to do their best work when they feel seen and heard. The best leaders know how to tap into this human potential and create an environment where everyone can thrive.
Good leaders are energising and build resilience into the fabric of their teams. They do this by role-modelling positive behaviours, setting clear expectations and providing structure and support. Good leaders also recognise the importance of timely feedback and regular check-ins to ensure that their team members are on track and have what they need to be successful.
When challenges arise, good leaders can remain calm and focused, which helps their team members to do the same. In short, good leaders embody the qualities that they want to see in their team members. They are role models, mentors and motivators who help their team members to reach their full potential.
In the Project Bright Spot study, researchers found that the best, most memorable, defining, and influential leaders shared many of the characteristics explored here. Out of the seven characteristics revealed as being the most important, the very best Conscious Leaders tend to present six of them. However, 47% of the top leaders in the case studies exhibited all seven characteristics.
Leadership has always been about setting a direction and inspiring others to follow. But in today's rapidly changing world, the most successful leaders recognise that their role is not to have all the answers but to create the space for others to contribute their ideas and expertise. This requires a shift in thinking from "command and control" to "enable and support."
Taking the next step to becoming a better leader
The best leaders are self-aware enough to recognise their limitations and comfortable empowering others to take the lead. They create an environment where everyone feels like they are part of the solution, not just the problem. And they know that collective intelligence will always be greater than individual intelligence.
So if you want to be a successful leader in today's world, it's time to start thinking about how you can enable and support your team rather than trying to control them. It's time to become an enabler rather than a commander.
Do you want to become a better leader and develop the essential characteristics highlighted by Project Bright Spot?
You can start by taking our Conscious Leader Psychometric.
Every leader has their own unique skills and characteristics, but certain qualities are essential for every good leader. That's why we developed the Conscious Leader Psychometric. This scientifically validated tool provides insights into critical areas like burnout, wellbeing, performance, engagement, and productivity.
By taking the psychometric test, you can identify which areas you need to work on to become a better leader. Plus, you'll receive personalised recommendations for further development. So if you're looking to take your leadership skills to the next level, be sure to take our Conscious Leader Psychometric.