Are You Thriving, Struggling or Suffering?

Blog by Tracy Stock, CSP | Achieve Positive Outcomes, LLC

The idea that “work sucks” is everywhere. In fact, according to the State of the Global Workplace 2022 Report published by Gallup, Inc.—renowned for their public opinion polls conducted worldwide—60% of workers today are emotionally detached at work and 19% are miserable.

So, what makes a job suck? Gallup found the biggest source was “unfair treatment at work.” That was followed by an unmanageable workload, unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support and unreasonable time pressure. Those five causes have one thing in common: your boss. Get a bad one and you are almost guaranteed to hate your job. A bad boss often ignores you, disrespects you and rarely supports you. Environments like that can make anyone miserable.

In fact, someone extremely close to me—who was clearly a rising star and promoted three times in under two years—recently gave notice and said “bye-bye” to his well-paid, degree-aligned leadership position WITHOUT securing another job to replace it. Crazy, you say? Well, I guess when you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough. And he certainly had enough suffering. And the commonality cause cited above mirrored his reasoning, too.

Improving life at work—or having it suck less—may not be easy, but it is rather simple: better leaders in the workplace. Managers need to be better communicators, coaches and collaborators. Awesome managers actually help their teams learn and grow, recognize them for doing quality work, and treat them in a way that makes them truly feel cared about. In environments like this, workers thrive versus struggle.

Following are 10 essential leadership traits or qualities that the best leaders consistently demonstrate and those leaders can focus on to enhance their ability to lead while increasing their chances of success. And guess what…they are not only good for leaders. They are qualities that high performing individual contributors also model:

1. Self-Confidence. Self-confidence is not only one of the essential leadership qualities but possibly the most important professional attribute that you can possess. Leaders who are confident in their abilities are typically more engaged and proactive, leading to better job performance and career advancement.

2. Problem-solving skills. To be successful in any workplace, leaders need to be able to see the situation from all angles and find the best solution for the organization.

3. Integrity. Being honest, adhering to your moral and ethical principles, and doing the right thing (even when it’s not easy or popular) is the foundation of successful leadership. Those with integrity are reliable, trustworthy and dependable.

4. Influence. Influence is the ability to personally affect the actions, decisions, opinions, or thinking of others. Ultimately, influence allows you to get things done and achieve desired outcomes.

5. Communication. The best leaders are skilled communicators who can communicate in a variety of ways, from transmitting information to inspiring others to coaching direct reports. And leaders must also be able to listen to, and communicate with, a wide range of people across roles, geographies, social identities, and more, in an empathetic manner.

6. Visionary. Visionary leadership is characterized by a keen understanding of the future and the ability to see opportunities where others do not. This type of leadership is often required in rapidly changing industries.

7. Accountability. The benefits of accountability are numerous and go beyond simply meeting organizational goals. When individuals are held accountable for their actions, it gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership for their work. Furthermore, it fosters a culture of continuous improvement.

8. Innovativeness. Innovation is a key ingredient in success in the workplace. Innovation ensures new ideas are thought of and put into practice. This leads to better work performance, higher creativity, and a higher level of commitment from employees.

9. Passion. Passion is a powerful leadership quality. Leaders must be passionate about their work to inspire others and drive results.

10. Courage. It can be hard to speak up at work, whether you want to voice a new idea, provide feedback to a direct report, or address a concern for someone above you. Rather than avoiding issues, have the courage to share a tough message in a way that maximizes candor and minimizes defensiveness.

Creating the best leaders—and selecting the right high potentials to fill open leadership roles—definitely isn’t rocket science. After all, every living, breathing adult is already a manager in life; but it does require identifying what leadership traits are critical for your leaders to model and then being very disciplined to ensure you find those individuals who exemplify those qualities. And rather than suffering or struggling, thriving under the right leadership sure sounds like a lot more fun!