Leadership qualities in the modern workplace

Learn about the most important leadership qualities and how to demonstrate them in the modern, digital workplace.

Finding leaders

The concept of the workplace may be ever-evolving, but the need for strong leadership will forever remain an imperative for any business. The important qualities that define a true leader aren’t just reserved to those in a specific leadership role. Anyone can, and should, aim to exhibit leadership qualities regardless of their place in the company structure.

Just as leadership qualities aren’t restricted to those in a leadership position, they also aren’t restricted to the physical workspace. As businesses continue to shift rapidly to the digital sphere, it’s important to understand how to demonstrate great leadership skills in the virtual environment.

Key leadership traits

There’s an endless list of traits that define good leadership, but here are some of the most important qualities of a good leader in the modern workplace.

  • Communication skills
  • Organization
  • Confidence
  • Accountability
  • A forward-thinking attitude
  • Motivation
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Adaptability
  • Self-Awareness

A true leader is not dogmatic or overly controlling—they trust their team and understand how to delegate in a way that takes advantage of individual strengths and satisfies personal goals while ultimately realizing the broader goals of the team. A strong leader is open to other ideas and perspectives and willing and keen to adapt to new challenges. They take responsibility and ownership for their work, and exude confidence and motivation.

There’s no one definition of good business leaders, but we can break it down into two separate leadership styles that are crucial in the modern workplace:

Demonstrating organizational leadership

Organizational leadership is leadership focused on balancing the overall strategic goals of the organization with the personal motivations of each individual. An effective leader will be able to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions of the employee and develop processes that utilize those strengths and ambitions to serve the wider business objectives, while encouraging ways to overcome the weaknesses.

The best leaders can understand the perspectives and concerns of others, and know how to address the needs of the customer, client and company while thoughtfully considering the individuals who are doing the work.

Organizational leaders focus on performance and morale, and are dedicated to ensuring that everyone in the team is motivated to reach their full potential. They understand how to restructure or redefine organizational processes to best serve both the bottom line and the unique needs and ambitions of each team member.

Organizational leadership requires strong soft skills and emotional intelligence. You’ve got to be able to understand and empathize with those you work with and for, while still being able to make informed, calculated decisions. Successful leaders approach challenges with a positive attitude and open-mindedness while still being realistic and rational. They exhibit decisiveness, while making it clear that every team member is valued and understood.

Having strong ethics and values and using them to help solve problems without compromising your bottom line makes a better leader, as does the ability to exhibit genuine respect for both the people you work with and the work you do.

Having good communication skills and encouraging an environment of openness is key to good leadership. Understanding how to communicate effectively with different groups and how to overcome obstacles to ensure that the message is always clear is one of the most important leadership qualities.

Organizational leadership is so important in the modern workplace because as the traditional office becomes less and less prevalent and businesses become more digital and global, strong, versatile communication skills are the key to keeping teams together and focused.

Demonstrating strategic leadership

Strategic leadership is far more grounded in technical competency. Thinking strategically, and leading strategically, means making logical decisions and favoring the common goal of the team, without allowing emotion or intuition to control problem-solving and decision-making.

A strategic leader can work towards the long-term goals and growth of the business while tackling current challenges. They are able to balance their focus and energy between future and present demands, and can enact change in every area of the business, rather than concentrating on a single facet.

Strategic leadership involves defining the ultimate vision of the business and devising systems and structures that work towards realizing that vision. Strategic leaders understand the landscape of the industry and critically analyze both their own strategies and the strategies of competitors to ensure that the best action is being taken.

A great strategic leader can anticipate challenges and overcome them by adapting and innovating, with an openness to criticism and an eagerness to take on new challenges.

While organizational leadership is more people-focused, strategic leadership is focused more on the overall company vision, and the systems and strategies that help achieve these goals. The characteristics of organizational leadership lean more towards interpersonal skills, unlike strategic leadership, which is more focused on technical, tangible tools and tactics.

Strategic leadership is important in the modern workplace because both business and technology are rapidly evolving, and you need strategic leaders to guide processes and practices that adapt to and succeed within this ever-changing landscape. Ensuring that you define workflows and processes that enable success and put the ultimate vision of the company at the forefront, while having tools in place to mitigate potential challenges is vital in the modern, digital workplace.

Demonstrating business leadership online

These days, a lot of important work is done online, often without any work done face-to-face. When working remotely, it can be easy to lose touch with the culture and community of the company and fall into unproductive routines—or no routine at all. Without being surrounded by a team working towards the same goals, it’s easy to become insular and detached from the work from you’re doing and from the wider vision of the organization.

Organizational leadership online

When you demonstrate organizational leadership in the modern workplace, you are developing and initiating concepts that facilitate open, honest communication between each team member no matter how near or far apart they may be.

It’s important as an effective leader in a digital space to find ways to keep your team engaged and focused, and great leaders will strategize and implement systems that allow their team to communicate ideas just as, if not more, efficiently online as they would offline.

Being a good communicator goes far beyond just scheduling regular catch-ups or checking in with one another on a group chat. Those are means of communication, but it’s also about how you engage with each other once you’re on that call or chat, and knowing how to liberate a discussion so that everyone feels heard and every idea is shared and considered.

When thinking about effective communication in the modern workplace, a good leader needs to focus their attention on defining where and how team members interact, and finding the best way to allow constant dialogue without being in the same room.

With tools like Dropbox Paper, teams are able to collaborate and communicate in an organized, flexible environment. Features like annotations allow teams to exchange feedback in real time, doing away with countless disorganized email chains in favor of one centralized space where everyone can work together from afar.

Dropbox makes it easy to share data, information, and ideas with every contributor, and helps you streamline the process so that the message is clear and accessible and no detail is spared or lost in the shuffle.

Strategic leadership online

Making sure you have effective systems in place that facilitate efficient, productive work regardless of your working environment is key for any business, and working online only elevates the need for a thorough structure and strategy that overcomes the limitations of not working in the same space.

Utilizing and developing definitive tools that assist time management, collaboration, productivity, and quality is essential when working predominantly online.

It can be as simple as creating careful file management systems and ensuring that every resource and every piece of data and content is where it should be, when it should be. Taking advantage of cloud storage and cloud-based collaboration tools is one way to ensure that your business operates like a well-oiled machine despite the fact that you may not all share an office.

With Dropbox Paper, task management is simple. With the ability to create intuitive, collaborative to-do lists, trackers, agendas, project outlines and other project management tools that help you define and implement efficient processes, Dropbox Paper provides everything you need to exhibit and develop effective leadership skills; all you need to provide is the leaders themselves.

Good business leaders will embrace technology that facilitates productivity and quality. Using these online tools is a reliable way to ensure everyone is on the same page and working together towards the same goal.