As with greatness, some people are born to lead and others have leadership thrust upon them. The characteristics of an efficient and effective leader are not always apparent until the time comes for them to be used. In any group of people, when a crisis looms, a leader emerges from the pack to take control, even if initially the pack decided someone else should do the job. This is because they have the characteristics of leadership: they walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
Efficient leaders are able to quickly see all sides to an issue or problem without bias. They may appear emotionally detached from the situation, but often this is not the case. They simply have the ability to put aside their personal attachments and work for the good of the team or project. Great leaders can take this skill and develop it so that they can also put their case across clearly and succinctly to all parties involved.
An efficient leader allocates resources effectively. This can mean finding the best value equipment, or identifying a time-saving process to get the job done. It also extends to human resources; knowing who will be the best for a particular task and making those expectations clear from the start are a key skill in leadership. Sometimes this may mean that the leader is the best person for the job, and at those times, the leader will not shirk the responsibility but will roll up their sleeves and muck in with the rest.
Any leader who inspires their team to aim high is creating an efficient and motivated environment. Encouragement cannot be understated, yet in many cases leaders can forget that the team works only as well as its weakest member. Great leaders inspire great teams. A good leader with a poorly motivated team has extra work to do in encouraging their workers before the actual task or project can get underway. Making opportunities for training, personal growth, and research and development are important in leading any group of individuals to greatness.
Humility is a characteristic that is often overlooked in leadership. Being humble and accepting that you cannot do everything yourself is important. Knowing when to call it a day, admit defeat, or change focus are crucial skills, yet they are often seen as a weakness. They are only a weakness if they are not acted upon; there can be no shame in refusing to continue down a certain path when everyone else can see it will have no benefit. Pride can be the downfall of many good leaders. Taking that decision is difficult, but efficient leaders will be able to explain their reasons and propose alternatives to maintain momentum. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as they are not repeated.
An efficient leader needs all of these characteristics. They also need a thick skin and a sense of humour; the leadership road is not a smooth one to travel, but the views along the way are tremendous.