Leadership is a skill, and it’s hard. It’s the difference between knowing how to motivate self and knowing how to motivate others.

One of the greatest values in developing leadership skills is that it helps avoid the cost and disruption risks of losing great employees, while at the same time creating a culture that attracts the best candidates. It is worth noting that more that 50% of departures are not about people leaving their job, but about leaving what they experience as a caustic culture. And culture always occurs as a result of leadership.

Here are five important leadership qualities to focus on:

1. Recognize contributions with feedback

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos. Leaders need to find out what makes their people feel appreciated and use that incentive to reward performance. On the flip side, when underperformance needs to be addressed, do so with compassion first, try an “is there an issue I can help with” approach. There is often a good reason for underperformance that can be addressed if you encourage it to be identified.

2. Hire and promote carefully

Great employees want to work in great teams. When leaders don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major de-motivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse.

3. Balance performance goals with compassion

Smart companies place a priority on making certain that their leaders know how to balance performance with being human. Great leaders celebrate employees’ successes, show empathy during hard times, and set challenging attainable goals.

4. Honour your commitments

Great leaders offer, and make sure to follow through on, commitments. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable, two critically important qualities in a leader.

5. Develop your People

Leadership, like any skills building, is not a status quo activity. Keep your employees engaged. It’s up to you to find areas in which they can improve and expand their skills. All employees want to be seen as talented, and to know they have earned it. Skills building opportunities create both of these opportunities.

It all boils down to this

If you want your best people to stay, and you want to attract the best candidates to your organization, you need to think carefully about how you treat all of your people. The ideal goal is to have great employees who are trained to the point of having options and who choose to work for you because of your leadership.