Leaders are everywhere. They’re heads of businesses, educators, civic leaders, health care workers on the front lines, mentors, and of course, parents. What characteristics must a person have to inspire others to want to follow them? Brilliant leaders share certain traits that make them extraordinary. Here are 5 leadership qualities all great leaders have in common.
5 Leadership Qualities
1. Great Leaders Are Constantly Learning
Effective leaders are constantly broadening their horizons. They have a thirst for knowledge, along with an insatiable curiosity. They are goal-oriented individuals who invest in themselves by setting both short and long-term goals. Once set, they keep their eye on the prize until they succeed. They put a premium on their time because they know that is the most valuable commodity.
Great leaders don’t quit and berate themselves unnecessarily when they fall short of their goals. Instead, they find innovative and better ways of accomplishing what they set out to do. They know that setbacks are part of the deal, and that failures are merely stepping stones, and a vehicle in which to learn valuable lessons. Wisdom and knowledge are often the hard-won casualties of trial and error.
Compelling leaders invest in themselves, in terms of their education, experience, and skills. In turn, they are then better able to inspire others to do the same. Intelligent leaders:
- Trust their own insights and opinions, while honoring the perspectives of others.
- Believe that effort requires a great deal of dedication and persistence, even when the going gets tough.
- Allow time for creativity and fun – they realize this makes them more interesting, more well-rounded, and better balanced in all areas of their lives.
- Believe that knowledge is power. They’re always on the cutting-edge.
- Make time for self-care and rest. It’s not possible to give from an empty well.
- Nurture their emotional health and relationships, which fosters caring and compassion.
- Sincerely give from their heart, bringing out and desiring the best for others.
- Acknowledge a higher power, being fully cognizant of their own limitations.
Here’s a great read on How to Master the Four Critical Areas of Being a Great Leader. Another interesting book is Emotional Intelligence 2.0.
2. Passion Underlies Leadership
Passion propels. Great leaders know this. It’s impossible to fan a flame without passion since it’s the invisible force that fuels vision, purpose, and commitment. Passion and purpose are the impetus that get endeavors and projects off the ground, carrying them through to fruition. They are vital components, that allow accomplished leaders to weather the inevitable storms and setbacks we all experience, to eventually reach the goals they’ve set.
Energy is required to achieve great things, take away passion and energy quickly follows. Think about it. Who does a group choose to lead when given a choice? A person brimming with enthusiasm and vision or a person who is unable to inspire? It’s always the enthusiastic person overflowing with positivity and purpose that gets the job done. Incredible leaders infuse, inspire, and motivate others to succeed. Gifted leaders are visionaries that initiate and sustain change, by instilling passion in others.
3. Leaders Are Decisive
Influential leaders are decisive. They are quick on their feet when a decision needs to be made. Capable leaders think rationally, and are able to make decisions in a calm and collected fashion. Decisiveness is a critical characteristic that all successful leaders share – the ability to think, decide, and act.
Once a decision is made, they commit to the course, and carry it through. Committed leaders keep their eye on the mark, are flexible when necessary, and exercise a high degree of consistency and perseverance. When something doesn’t go as planned, they find alternate, yet better, courses of action. Bottom line – accomplished leaders get the deal done in the face of adversity.
Gifted leaders are humble enough to emulate and learn from others that have gone before them. They are fully aware of their own limitations and abilities, and welcome the opinions and perspectives of those they serve, realizing there are many ways to get from point A to point B. Trustworthy leaders surround themselves with trusted advisers.
4. Great Leaders Value Team Work
“Since we’re all in this together, let’s work together until we succeed” is a motto leaders who value team work live by. Their goal is not to exert power over the people they lead, rather they view everyone as equals, knowing that team work is what ultimately gets things done. This teamwork mentality translates to all groups or situations they find themselves in.
Exceptional leaders are authentic across all areas of their lives. They don’t act like chameleons, presenting a different face to suit a particular situation or agenda. Extraordinary leaders are forthcoming and transparent. This stems from their desire for everyone on the team to succeed, not just their own personal gain. Team leaders don’t play favorites, but grant everyone the same level of respect, knowing that this mindset is what promotes loyalty and trust in those they lead.
Outstanding leaders correct and teach when necessary, yet view the behavior as separate from the person. They realize that encouragement, instead of criticism is what leads to changes in behavior, allowing bonds that endure to form. Leaders, such as this, are not created overnight, they work diligently and are compelled to develop the skills that make them great.
5. Effective Leaders Are Courageous
Humility and courage are both prerequisites for effectual leadership. Without them, successful leadership isn’t possible. Unfortunately, arrogant leaders are many times the norm in today’s society. We see it all the time, across all sectors. Leaders who accomplishment great feats are courageous enough to be humble, not cowering at criticism, but viewing it as a way to better themselves and their leadership skills.
They deem the responsibility placed on them as a great honor, and as a result, have a high degree of accountability. In turn, they expect this same accountability in those they lead, which fosters self-respect and commitment. Strong leaders have iron wills and are able to see the big picture. These skills get them through tough times, and garner trust and respect from those that depend on them.
Courageous leaders are humble enough to laugh at themselves. This skill enables them to transform their failures into wisdom and experience without being too hard on themselves. The ability to learn from one’s mistakes leads to innovation and curiosity. Innovative leaders are always on the cutting edge, constantly embracing new opportunities and new ways of doing things, which exponentially increases their ability to succeed.
How Are Your Leadership Skills Stacking Up?
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Outstanding leaders leave an indelible impression on those who have been blessed to be under their leadership. Think of how different the world would be if we had more exceptional leaders in it. Our neighborhoods, communities, cities, and nation would be friendlier and more hospitable places to live and thrive.
Although, great leaders may be born with inherent qualities, such as a desire to serve, an impressive work ethic, and a great deal of grit and gumption, it’s their dedication and tenacity that enable them to reach their highest potential to become the best version of themselves. The desire and commitment to help others become their best selves is what makes great leaders memorable long after they’ve departed this plant.
Which of these leadership qualities are you working on cultivating? Let me know in the comments:)