[January 12, 2014] There are a number of traits in senior leadership, but it is benevolence that is most closely associated with both a positive work environment and with improved productivity. A number of studies have shown that senior executive leaders are more likely to succeed by displaying benevolent qualities.
There are stories from history about the benevolent leader of a large Persian empire two millennium ago. Despite conquering a number of other empires and defeating vast armies, Cyrus the Great was known to everyone as a force of good and a man of character: generous, courteous, and in possession of physical and moral courage.
All senior leaders possess some level of benevolence that contributes to their success. Senior leaders however are distinguished from all other leaders by the height of benevolence they are capable of showing.
Some of the abilities of a benevolent leader means they:
- Attract and retain top talent.
- Motivate workers to exceptional levels of performance.
- Surround themselves with consistent top performers.
- Are perceived as being more caring, intelligent, and honest.
- Inspire loyalty from their followers.
- Are clear on expectations, objectives, and delegation of work.
- Better communicators.
- Give better routine feedback.
- Associated with superior long-term organizational success.
Social scientists have been studying different leadership styles for many decades and have found that several stand out as being most effective. These benevolent leadership traits are a few proven to be effective.
But the benevolent senior leader is not one to be confused with weakness, acquiescence, or timidity. To the contrary, a truly benevolent leader must have the strength to be a skilled motivator, clear communicator, the moral courage, and mental toughness to achieve something great. This is no trait of the weak.
Just as Cyrus the Great was strong and was able to oversee a vast empire, he was also benevolent. The greatest of senior leaders are benevolent – strong and skilled.