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The Leadership Qualities Teams Want

We’ve all heard this one before: “people leave managers, not companies”. In my experience it’s an accurate statement. Great leaders are vital to your organisation. They are one of your most valuable employee benefits, and an excellent retention and attraction strategy. We want leaders who can hold onto our staff, especially as the employment market recovers and securing top talent becomes more challenging.  So, what makes a good leader? I’ve been fortunate enough to work for and with many outstanding leaders in my career. Below are the qualities I’ve seen inspire teams to go above and beyond. Take a look to see if you and your people have the leadership qualities most teams want.

Effective communicator

Being a great leader starts with being able to communicate in a clear and engaging way. It’s human nature to look for and make meaning in most situations. Leaders who have really harnessed the power of communicating effectively do two things well: they provide a compelling why, and they are able to answer the question “what’s in it for me?” Whether it’s articulating a vision or providing a directive, they inspire their team to take action and strive for excellence. One simple way to do this is to link everyday tasks and activities to the business strategy (not just performance recognition or incentives).

Walks the talk

It’s not enough to be an effective communicator. Staff look at the actions of their leaders. Do they conduct themselves professionally? How do they speak about and treat others? Most importantly, are they authentic? That is, do they do what they say they will do, and do they live the company values they espouse? I worked with a C-level executive who was adored by his entire team. He was completely down to earth but relentless about improving the customers’ experience and outcomes. This was in line with the organisation’s strong customer focus. This also inspired the team by framing their work in a meaningful and tangible way.

Provides opportunities to learn and grows

One of the greatest abilities a leader can have is an in-depth understanding of the strengths, interests, and motivators of each of their team members. With this understanding, they can build a loyal and high-performing team. At the end of the day, we all want to do interesting work that utilises our abilities to our full potential. A leader who can tap into this and provide opportunities for their team to grow and develop will always be someone people want to work for.

Has your back

No one likes to be pulled up or criticised in front of others. In my experience, this is the quickest way to damage engagement and morale.  If you need to discuss a development opportunity, it’s best done privately. No matter how small the critique, there is a risk the team member will feel hurt, embarrassed, or angry – or all of the above. It boils down to respect, which is the foundation of any successful relationship.


Work is only one aspect of our lives. Great leaders understand this and support employees’ various life roles. A simple way to do this is to offer flexible work arrangements. Additionally, you can celebrate team members’ achievements outside of work. The likely result is happy and productive employees who are willing to go the extra mile. A manager I know allowed his team to finish work early so they could attend a colleague’s photography exhibition. The entire team enthusiastically put their hand up to do extra work during a peak period.

The budding photographer volunteered to take corporate headshots of the executive team for the company’s website. Additionally, images taken for a proposal helped the company win work.

Open to feedback

Good leaders are open to feedback and are gracious in their responses. This helps team members feel safe. They know there will be no repercussions for being honest. Great leaders take it a step further. They cultivate an environment that supports learning and a growth mindset. They actively seek out feedback and continuously look for ways for everyone to improve – including themselves.

Can have tough conversations

One of the best managers I’ve worked with was known for being firm but fair. She was the type of person who would tell you if there was something stuck in your teeth. She didn’t shy away from delivering bad news or having tough conversations because they were awkward or hard. She focused on what was ultimately best for her staff. Her upfront and genuine approach to performance and coaching conversations were appreciated by her team.

Most businesses need great people to grow and succeed. That’s why I believe it’s critical to take steps to ensure staff not only stay but thrive. Do you have leaders that inspire your team? If you are looking to hire an exceptional leader or would like to discuss this topic further, feel free to contact me directly.  Alternatively, for any hiring needs please reach out to your Clicks Account Manager or 1300 CLICKS for a confidential discussion. Clicks specialises in IT recruitment. Our recruiters average 12 years of industry experience, and we’re on over 80 Preferred Supplier Agreements. As Australia’s favourite IT recruiters, we can help you find top talent, fast!

Tamara Ryf

Regional General Manager, VIC & ACT



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