7 Things People Need from Leaders

What people look for in great leaders

One of the greatest benefits of working on The Leadership Project and The Leadership Project podcast is to survey and listen to a broad set of views about what good and great leadership looks like.

I have also been collecting over time my own personal views about leaders that I admire and that inspire me.

This has enabled me to develop a list of attributes that people look for in great leaders and the same common list comes up on a frequent basis.

An interesting point is that most of the answers relate to emotions and feelings rather than rational or tangible things.

#1 To feel valued (to matter)

The number one response in each survey conducted and a frequent response in all podcast interviews has been that great and inspiring leaders make their team members feel valued and feel that they matter.

This includes giving people a platform to find and share their voice and to deeply listen and demonstrate that you have listened and value their contribution and opinions.

It means taking the time to acknowledge contributions and successes in the team (individually and collectively). There is almost nothing worse than when someone works their butt off to complete a task or a report and you cannot tell if your boss even noticed or read the report.

This also includes taking the time to build a genuine connection with your team members individually. Take an interest in them personally. Remember things about them that they have previously told you about. Write handwritten notes of thanks, care and support for them. Show support and care for them when they are having a tough time, for example when they or a family member are unwell.

Take the time to understand their personal preferences and then make sure that any reward or recognition that you give them is in line with those preferences

#2 Trust

The number two factor in our surveys has been Trust. Trust is a two-way thing. The most common answer is that their boss trusts them and demonstrates that trust through their actions. Conversely, that the boss does not show any behavior that brings that trust into question.

One of the key drivers in building trust is to demonstrate that you trust your team and every team member. This will create a reciprocity of trust between you.

To build and maintain trust over time is to ensure that your actions are always in alignment with your stated values and beliefs

#3 Authenticity

An attribute that is raised with increasing frequency is that of authenticity. People crave a boss that brings their authentic self every day. Someone that is themselves and does not try to be someone or something else. This then extrapolates to providing an environment where people can also be their authentic self and to be respected for that.

#4 Vision, Purpose and Meaning

People crave purpose and meaning in what they do. They treasure leaders who have clarity around their own personal vision and the vision for their organization or team. These leaders are typically able to clearly articulate the purpose, positive impact and provide meaning to what the team does. That is, the impact of what you do, not what you do

These leaders will have a great ability to attract and retain team members that have similar purpose. All people want to work for an organization and have a job where they can clearly see the purpose and meaning of what they do. Where they feel valued and that what they do matters.