What it means to be an effective leader today 

Being a leader is more than simply being the boss or the person who makes all the decisions.

A good leader knows how to inspire and empower their team to do their best work. They lead by example and provide a vision for success for everyone on their team. The greatest leaders are also humble, accountable and confident, which makes them authentic people that others trust and respect.  

UQ Business School’s Dr Adam Kay teaches into the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program and recently delivered a classroom presentation on leadership for Business Chicks for their Networking Night. For those who missed out on the evening, Business Chicks noted a few key points from Adam’s presentation and reflected on what makes an effective leader. Explore below the components of a great leader and the role psychological safety plays in creating a nurturing work environment.


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A good leader:

1. Knows trust is the foundation of all effective relationships 

Trust is the foundation of all effective relationships. Trust is earned, not given. 

As a leader, one way you can earn trust is by creating an open environment where people feel safe sharing their opinions and ideas without fear of being ridiculed or attacked. If your team feels like they’re being treated fairly and respectfully, then they’re more likely to be loyal to you and your organisation. 

2. Questions and listens to feedback 

A good leader is always asking questions.  

Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn and grow, especially if you’re trying to understand something new. It also helps you learn about yourself and others, which is essential for becoming an effective leader. Listening to feedback is another great way to improve as a leader because it allows you to gain insight into how others see you from their perspective and what they think could be improved upon in your leadership abilities.

One thing we’ve learned over time is that asking questions doesn’t always mean being insecure; rather, it can help develop rapport with others while learning more about who they are as individuals. What’s great about this approach is that it encourages learning across all areas: cognitively (through asking), emotionally (through listening), socially/relationally (through connecting with people) – you get the idea! This type of exchange makes team building easier because it creates an atmosphere where information flows freely between everyone involved in order for everyone else’s needs/goals/desires etc. to be met.

3. Reflects on past mistakes and learns from them 

The best leaders are not afraid of mistakes. They know that learning from their mistakes is the only way to grow as a person and become better at what they do. If you’re in a position of leadership, don’t be afraid to reflect on your past experiences and use them to improve your current situation or future projects. 

It’s important not to dwell on past mistakes; instead, learn from those missteps so that you can push ahead with confidence and positivity in your day-to-day work tasks. 

4. Focuses on the bigger picture and doesn't take things personally

As a leader, you must learn to separate your emotions from the task at hand. This is easier said than done but it’s imperative that you do so in order to be an effective leader. 

5. Knows when it’s time to ask for help and delegate work

Delegating work is a sign of confidence, not weakness. A good leader knows how to delegate effectively and when it’s time to let go of control. 

6. Admits when they’re wrong and moves forward with confidence 

Good leaders are not afraid to admit when they’re wrong. They can tell you that an idea didn’t work and why, or that their actions were inappropriate. 

They also know how to laugh at themselves and accept what happened, instead of living in denial about their mistakes or making excuses for them. In other words, good leaders take responsibility for the things they do or say. 

Effective leaders are humble, accountable and confident, which makes them authentic people that others trust and respect

When we think of great leaders, what do they have in common? If you said that they’re humble, accountable and confident, then you are right! Effective leaders are open to feedback and willing to learn from their mistakes. They also take responsibility for their actions and the actions of their team. 

So, we’ve shared what we think the qualities of an effective leader are, now let’s dive even deeper and look at what UQ Business School’s Dr Adam has to say about taking leadership to the next level.

Leadership and Psychological Safety in the workplace 

Dr Adam spoke to the idea of psychological safety in the workplace, which is a shared belief that the work environment is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. 

The benefits of employees feeling psychologically safe include: 

  • Collaboration + helping 
  • Voice + creativity  
  • Experimenting + learning 
  • Trust + team performance  
  • The leader sets the tone. 

How can leaders improve Psychological Safety in the workplace? 

Dr Adam told us that one of the ways to improve Psychological Safety in the workplace is through Online Mindfulness Training (OMT). 

OMT has numerous benefits including: 

  • Lowering anxiety and stress
  • Improving resilience at work
  • Improving conflict management
  • Fostering psychological wellbeing.

OMT can be anything from logging onto your Calm App and losing yourself in a guided meditation or listening to a sleep playlist as you drift off to sleep.

All these things can help contribute to helping you become a mindful leader. 

Great leaders know that they can’t do everything on their own and they’re good at finding the right people to help them lead. Effective leaders are humble, accountable and confident, which makes them authentic leaders whom people trust and respect. 

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