Leadership Behaviours That Graduates Should Embrace

4 Minutes

As graduates transition from the structure of university to the dynamic and fast-paced natur...

By Pareto Team


As graduates transition from the structure of university to the dynamic and fast-paced nature of professional life, they will find they need to develop and demonstrate leadership behaviours that will set them apart and enable them to achieve career success.

While knowledge and technical know-how play an integral role in our ability to exceed expectations in our day-to-day responsibilities, the 4 leadership qualities we explore in this guide will be the way that candidates really distinguish themselves during the hiring process and as they go on to work in their careers. By embracing these leadership behaviours, graduates can realise their potential, navigate challenges with confidence, and remain highly productive.

This guide explores the 4 leadership qualities that a leadership course will impart to graduates, enabling them to hit the ground running following the completion of their studies.

The Top 4 Leadership Qualities for Graduates

Whether you’re looking at team leadership or operations management, getting the best out of a workforce is a challenge for even the best leaders. Cultivating certain leadership behaviours can be a powerful way to build better business relationships, negotiate and mediate conflict, and manage successful organisational change, but they often don’t come naturally to us. 

This doesn’t mean that you have to be a manager to learn these leadership behaviours. 83% of employers agree that developing leadership behaviours at every level of seniority within an organisation is vital since it’s these qualities that will encourage staff to take ownership of their work, have pride in their achievements, and contribute towards a working environment where all staff feel respected and supported.

Before we explore our list of the top 4 leadership qualities, it’s important to note that great graduate leaders aren’t those who excel in one of these specific leadership behaviours. Excelling in a leadership position requires a holistic approach that blends all of these skills, which is why leaders need to be constantly focused on professional development and the improvement of their skills. 

Compassionate leadership qualities aren’t worthwhile if the leader that possesses them can’t communicate effectively, and likewise, a communicative leader that lacks compassion can find themselves unable to inspire loyalty in their team.

This is why it’s so important to emphasise developing these 4 leadership qualities through training, apprenticeships, leadership coaching, or mentorship—no matter which route you take, it’s crucial to build skills in all of these leadership behaviours to reach your potential.

1. Communication

A major priority of leadership is to encourage the creation of a collaborative and open environment, and this is done by leading by example. As a result, communication is considered one of the top 4 leadership qualities for graduates to embrace, and leadership coaching commonly focuses on discovering the core aspects of communication that can be taught and practiced. 

Effective communication enables leaders to articulate their visions, goals, and expectations clearly, which is crucial within the fast-paced environment of sales. Having great ideas is one thing, but if you can’t effectively communicate with those who are going to carry out your vision, then they’re all for nothing—being able to put your ideas across in a succinct and coherent manner will go a long way in making you a fantastic leader.

Being able to build effective and long-lasting relationships with team members, colleagues, and internal and external stakeholders helps graduate leaders to foster trust and side-step conflict. Whilst conflict is often inevitable within the business environment, effective communication skills can help leaders to minimise the disruption they cause and resolve those that do crop up constructively. 

If you struggle with communicating clearly and effectively, a leadership course can help you to develop the skills you need to share a compelling vision, provide feedback, and inspire others to give their best effort, a vital aspect of the compassionate leadership we’ll talk about later.

2. Creativity

Creativity, innovation, and the ability to adapt and respond to the challenges of professional life are crucial leadership behaviours to embrace. Graduates considering moving into leadership should be able to think outside of the box, generate novel ideas, and approach the problems of the workplace with a fresh perspective that can inspire and motivate others. 

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers research, 77% of chief executive officers consider creative thinking to be one of the most important aspects of leadership success. Luckily, graduates have this in spades—generating fresh ideas, identifying opportunities for product or service improvement, and envisioning new possibilities for their teams and organisations come naturally to them. 

When it comes to leadership behaviours, the ability to adapt and respond to complex and dynamic challenges in a creative and business-conscious manner can help graduates to stand out from the pack and contribute to a positive work environment in which they can reach their full potential. Uncertain market trends mean that business resilience and competitiveness demand that organisations embrace the continuous improvement that creativity inspires.

3. Compassion

Compassion plays a significant role in creating an inclusive environment where all employees can feel supported as they work together to drive organisational success. 

Compassionate leadership is founded on the principle that those in charge of others should genuinely care about their well-being, prioritising their work-life balance, physical and emotional health, and personal and professional development. By empathising with their colleagues’ career goals, graduate leaders can inspire trust and loyalty from their team members, ensuring engagement, loyalty, and staff that will go the extra mile when the need arises.

It isn’t just important for the colleagues that the leader is responsible for, however. A study by the Potential Project highlighted that leaders who consider themselves to possess high levels of compassion report 63% lower burnout and 66% less stress in their roles. 

Compassionate leadership sets the tone for an organisation’s wider culture, and by embodying and championing compassion in everything they do, graduates can contribute towards a culture of caring and respect. This leads to reports of higher levels of job satisfaction and a harmonious working environment, which is an ideal way to inspire productivity.

4. Commercial Sense

Commercial sense, sometimes called business acumen, allows leaders to make informed decisions, drive growth, and navigate complex business challenges. Developing commercial sense requires leaders to thoroughly understand not only their organisation but the wider industry and economy they operate in. 

Leaders with a commercial sense have the ability to understand industry trends, enabling them to predict market dynamics and make strategic decisions which align with their organisation’s long-term goals. Crucial aspects of leadership, such as evaluating risks and identifying opportunities, all rely on commercial sense. 

Moreover, financially astute leaders possess the ability to communicate the financial implications of their business decisions. Interpreting key performance indicators and allocating resources effectively requires leaders with a deep understanding of the financial health of their organisation and the ability to control costs and deliver projects on time and under budget. 

Within the dynamic and uncertain markets that characterise 2023, commercial sense allows leaders to identify growth opportunities and develop the processes that allow their businesses to capitalise on them, allowing them to exceed the expectations of internal and external stakeholders and stay ahead of the competition. 

If you’re looking for more tips for achieving career success and productivity, see our Graduate Survival Guide to see how you can incorporate the leadership behaviours we explore here into your interviews.

A leadership course can help to impart the 4 leadership qualities we detail here, but it’s important for would-be graduate leaders to allow these leadership behaviours to influence other areas of their lives. If they live and breathe compassionate leadership, creativity, open and transparent communication, and commercial sense, they’re likely to find it easier to integrate these skills into the professional environment. 

As graduates navigate the transition from university to the professional world, embracing these 4 leadership qualities will become crucial to their career success. Communication, creativity, compassion, and commercial sense are essential leadership behaviours that set graduates apart from the competition and enable them to excel in their roles, no matter what level of seniority they’re entering an organisation at. 

By developing and incorporating these qualities into their professional and personal lives through a combination of leadership coaching or a leadership course, mentorship, or self-improvement, graduates can realise their potential, effectively navigate challenges, and contribute to a positive and productive work environment. It’s vital for graduates to continuously enhance these leadership behaviours to thrive in their future careers. 

Search for An Impactful and Inspiring Leadership Course

At Pareto, we’ve been delivering leadership coaching and enhancing the skills of the next generation of management professionals for over 25 years, and we’re always excited to nurture the skills of motivated, talented graduates. No matter which industry you’re interested in, we’ve got a leadership course for you. Whether it’s a Level 3 programme in Team Leadership or training in communication and commercial sense, we’re here to support you. Contact us to learn more about our services for graduates. 

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