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Essential behaviours and traits of an influential leader

22 September 2020 by Danny McGowan

If you look after your people, they will in turn look after your clients and business. It is therefore fundamental that you influence correctly and lead them in the most effective way possible, to help them evolve, grow and deliver great work. 


There are many qualities and characteristics that separate a poor leader from a great one. Great leaders shape teams, organizations and industries as a whole, but despite the thousands of business management books written on this topic, it is rarely an exact science. It is something that is learned over time and through experience, trial and error. If you do everything in your life correctly, one can argue that you will have never learnt. 

Danny McGowan is the Operations Manager at Add Energy, and has a wealth of experience leading teams across the energy sector. In this blog post, he has shared insights and opinions about what it takes to be a good leader in this sector, and shares helpful tips and examples of what he practices on a daily basis. 

What are the 3 main traits you believe an effective leader should have?

“I believe in “people leaders”. This is not defined by how high up an individual is in an organization, but more so by their actions and how they work. The three main traits these people have are:

  • Communication: they will take the time to ensure people understand exactly what is being asked of them, and will actively share knowledge with their team
  • Care: they will truly care about the work they do, and be passionate about building up and leading their team. Motivation is contagious, so this quality is pivotal for effective leaders in our industry.
  • Technical knowledge: they will also have a strong technical base that allows for the justification of their decisions, and builds trust with their team. They must be competent in their line of work, but also have rounded knowledge of the business as a whole.”

What habits or behaviors do you recommend managers learn to evolve into an effective leader?

Communicating and listening to your team:

“Personally, I’ve noticed that the smaller things can have the biggest impact. Engaging with as many members of the team on a daily basis, and really listening to what is going on around you is important, as it ensures you pick up on the pulse of where the business is and how people are feeling. You should also stay alert to ongoing aggravations in the team and take actions to smooth these out right away.”

Identify and repeat successes: 

“It’s important to understand what is working really well and why, and identify ways you can replicate this success and take those learnings into different parts of the business.”

Focus on marginal gains:

“A piece of advice which I’ve always remembered is to try avoid getting hung up on being the best at everything. As long as your team is trying their best, that’s what is important. 

“Instead, focus on marginal gains across the board - this will make a phenomenal difference. Define what success really looks like, and what role each person plays in helping to achieve this. What is expected of them? Where do they sit in the bigger picture? How can they develop? What’s the end game? This is critical for achieving success, as it allows you to develop the roadmap.” 

Ensure the right people are in the right roles:

“This may seem obvious, but it is crucial to make sure you have people with the right skills, experience and expertise in the right roles. A competency gap assessment against the work type forecast, and available hours will form the foundation of this assurance measure, and allow for work to be done in the best possible way. Ensuring the right results are achieved.”

Set up regular meetings:

“I recommend setting 1-to-1 meetings with your team leads on a weekly basis. This will allow you to set aside personal time with your leads to strengthen relationships and provide personalized feedback or advice. Scheduling recurring team meeting with your leads a couple of times per week has also worked well for me in my role. Even if it's just a half an hour huddle, this platform will drive communication and ensure your finger is kept on the pulse.”

Provide constructive feedback:

“Keep your team well informed and always give feedback where possible, making sure it is motivating and constructive. Always attempt to point out and praise competency but at the same time never be afraid to identify incompetency. This can be handled well with 1-to-1 meetings with supervisors. Encourage training where it is needed, ensuring the training is well designed for the specific issue you wish to solve.”

Ensure you have a predecessor: 

“A really important tip I’d offer to anyone in a leadership role is to ensure you have a predecessor. Make sure someone in your team is capable of picking up the reins if and when required. This person can support you if you were unavailable, and provides contingency for the business if you move on.”

What is your number one tip for leaders to ensure they maximize their team effectiveness?

“If you want a motivated, productive team that executes work efficiently and safely, you need to invest in them. This is the only way you’ll guarantee client satisfaction. 

“Recruiting the right people in the first instance is hugely important, and I have a few golden rules when interviewing potential candidates:

  • Focus on culture and behaviors over skillset. Skills can be taught, but their beliefs and attitude towards their work is of utmost importance.
  • They must have desire and drive, and exude genuine interest and passion when talking about their work. 
  • A good tell is their ability to communicate and how they react under pressure. Understanding this will give you invaluable insight into what they’d be like within your working environment.
  • Understand their drawbacks. What are they not good at, or what would need enhanced or learned if they were to join your team?

“However, it’s not enough to simply get the right people through the door. You need to continually invest in them to retain them, and maximize their capabilities. 

“A huge part of this is training. By identifying competency gaps, we can push people out of their comfort zones and nurture their existing knowledge to accomplish new challenges. With careful supervision and mentoring, this can easily be achieved - and the positive impact to your business can be significant.

“Prioritize people in critical roles, or those directly linked to commercial value, as well as the people who have the capacity to grow your organization. Always focus on the impact on your business - what will allow you to be more efficient, profitable, productive or safer? This is a good starting point.”

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Our solution offers training and development programs tailored to different levels in an organization - from leadership to front line workers.

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