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Hiring Advice Engaging your workforce Are you a good leader? These are the traits you need
Are you a good leader? These are the traits you need

Are you a good leader? These are the traits you need

Did you know that Malaysians don't find a relationship with their boss a priority when it comes to their work? However, the same report, Jobstreet by SEEK's Future of Recruitment analysis, reveals that 44% of Malaysian talent want to progress into leadership roles. Perhaps the lack of good leaders to look up to could explain this disconnect.

The truth is proper leadership is still a crucial component in retaining talent. However, poor leadership feels standard. According to SEEK research, 82% of people admit to having had a bad leader at some point.

Being a manager doesn't necessarily equate to a great leader. An accomplished career doesn't translate to brilliant leadership savvy. After all, many experts become managers because of terrific technical skills, but their people smarts may be lacking.

Leadership doesn't have to be innate, but when you move into a supervisory role, you must be able to develop those soft skills as well. Interpersonal know-how would help you to build relationships with employees, colleagues, and customers, allowing you to influence change.

Here are five ideal leadership traits and ways to develop them.

What makes a good leader?

Leadership comes in many styles, research for SEEK reveals that the top traits employees want in a leader include honesty, good communication, organisation, good listening skills, and open-mindedness.

These remarkable leadership qualities foster a positive work culture, which motivates employees and retains them for longer.


Honesty is a component of building trust and is at the core of respected leadership. People won't be motivated or inspired if they don't trust their leader. Any sort of dishonest behaviour might trigger demoralisation and even resignations.

Good communication

Leaders need to communicate what they require of employees just as well as they can recite the company's vision or strategy. Employees will find it hard to perform well in their roles without clarification on what's expected of them.


Listening means putting yourself in the shoes of others, whether they are employees, customers or colleagues. It's a cornerstone of empathy and understanding where others are coming from can enable you to make better management decisions.


While leaders can have varying degrees of organisation (with some relying on assistants), they should all be capable of planning.

They must be able to prioritise and delegate effectively, and they need to keep campaigns or projects on track.


Employees, particularly from creative and imaginative industries, value leaders who are open to change.

Many employees want to work for organisations where they can raise issues and contribute new ideas. If a culture doesn't encourage this, progressive employees will move on quickly. Leaders must also be open-minded with customers and clients.

They can respect the ideas and opinions of others outside the organisation. This collaborative spirit can take the company in new directions.

The dangers of poor leadership

Good leaders can build a culture of respect and trust and empower employees to achieve their goals. On the other hand, poor leaders contribute to a toxic work culture and high staff turnover. For instance, a study in Information Management and Business Review reveals that the majority of workers in the manufacturing sector quit because of negative experiences with the administration.

A lack of trust or respect for the leadership team can turn things ugly. The culture becomes toxic, people find it hard to stay engaged. Eventually, they leave, which can be very costly for the organisation.

These are the most common traits of bad leaders:

  • Poor communication

  • Dishonesty

  • Disrespect

  • Not being authentic

  • Being unwilling to listen

  • Not communicating and guiding the team through change

  • Not recognising strengths and weaknesses in a team

  • Not providing regular and timely feedback

  • Not showing appreciation for hard work

Losing good employees is a concern for all industries, especially those currently experiencing high demand for staff, such as hospitality, health and education.

How can leaders develop good traits?

Developing positive leadership traits, better managing a team and improving relationships with staff all start with self-awareness. For leaders, this means understanding their behaviour and personality and how this impacts those around them.

Leadership coaching and self-assessment can help leaders, especially new ones, understand their leadership, work, and communication styles.

It can also help leaders navigate their team's varied personalities, strengths, and working proficiencies.

Regular feedback is the key to getting the best out of your employees. Unfortunately, most companies conduct one or two performance reviews yearly and not much in between. Regular check-ins with each team member can clarify expectations and facilitate constructive criticism.

Open communication lines

Taking on a leadership role can feel overwhelming because it requires seniority and experience and often a whole new set of interpersonal skills.

Leaders should assign one-on-one time with each team member in the early days to find out more about them as a person. It could include their career aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, work and communication preferences, challenges, values, the type of work that energises them, and what motivates them in the workplace.

Leaders can also arrange regular follow-up meetings every 30, 60 or 90 days with each individual to ensure that they build transparency and trust.

Don't be afraid about stepping into a leadership role – whether you're an official manager or a regular alpha. Start by being curious and willing to listen and observe before jumping in and making changes.

This process can be difficult for a results-focused manager who wants to get some runs on the board, but taking the time to get the lay of the land and to get to know your team will set you up for long-term success.

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