Merriam Webster defines leadership as the office or position of a leader, capacity to lead and the act or an instance of leading. Peter Drucker said management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Steve Jobs said innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. John Maxwell said a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. John Quincy Adams said if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. Theodore Roosevelt said the difference between a leader and a boss, the leader leads and the boss drives. Ken Blanchard said the key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. So what are the characteristics of a leader?
Leaders are focused. They focus on major things, not minor things. Leaders are less distracted by trivial things. They get the few critical things done.
Leaders are confident. They have swagger and are assertive. Leaders instill confidence and followership by having a clear vision. They are strong coaches.
Leaders are extroverted. They have dominant personalities. Leaders have a high desire to control their environment and influence other people. They express their opinions in a forceful way. Individuals with higher intelligence exhibit superior judgement, higher verbal skills, quicker learning and acquisition of knowledge.
Leaders are transparent. They are 100% authentic, open, sometimes flawed but always passionate. Leaders are fully present and consistent. This engenders trust and buy-in from the team. They know what they’re getting at all times. Being authentic in all of your interactions rubs off on your business, culture and employees.
Leaders have integrity. They have consistent values. Leaders are honest. They know what’s right and do the right thing always. This creates a culture of integrity and values that is reflected in its employees.
Leaders Inspire. Leaders aren’t self-made, they are driven. They were inspired by other leaders and their advice. This fueled their beliefs, internal drive and passion.
Leaders then pass that on to others. They motivate others. By standing on the shoulders of leaders, you can see farther and achieve greatness. And leaders are willing to help them up.
Leaders have passion. They love what they do. To be truly successful at anything, you must obsess over it and let it consume you. Leaders are never satisfied and constantly push to do something bigger, better and greater. They lead by example because it’s their way of life.
Leaders are innovative. In any system with finite resources and infinite possibilities, innovation is essential for not only success but survival. Through thought, technology or organization, innovation solves our challenges.
Leaders are patient. The path to great things is always tough, but leaders understand when to abandon the cause or stay the course. Patience is courage that tests your commitment to the cause. Bold visions have plenty of reasons why it can’t be done and plenty of doubting doubters. A lot of things have to come together such as external markets, competition, financing, consumer demand and a little luck, to pull off something big.
Leaders are stoic. Leaders inevitably will find themselves in difficult situations, costly mistakes and unscrupulous enemies. Stoicism is accepting and anticipating this in advance and not getting frazzled, reacting emotionally and aggravating things further. Leaders train their minds, consider worst-case scenarios and regulate unhelpful instinctual responses. They are emotionally stable. Leaders are high self-monitors.
Leaders have wonkiness. They understand the underlying numbers. They can accurately collate and analyze necessary data.
Leaders are authentic. They learn from others, pick up skills but never lose their own voice, opinions and decision making capability. Individuals who are more aware of their personality qualities, including their values and beliefs, and are less biased when processing self-relevant information, are more likely to be accepted as leaders.
Leaders are open-minded. They keep an open mind while remaining flexible and making adjustments if necessary. Leaders invest in, develop and maintain great relationships. No one knows all of the answers. Leaders must be humble and teachable. They are lifelong learners. They are open to experience.
Leaders are decisive. They make decisions quickly. Decisive wrong decisions will often lead to better long-term results than and a stronger team than wishy-washy decisions that turn out to be right.
Leaders are personable. They are real. Leaders focus on genuine connections with people and look for ways to help them rather than just focus on what others can do for them. That makes them more likeable and respected which makes them better leaders. Leaders are conscientious. They have high emotional intelligence and an increased ability to understand and relate to people. They have skills in communicating and decoding emotions, dealing with others wisely and effectively.
Leaders empower. They delegate responsibility and authority. This is how leaders find people’s true capabilities and get the most out of them.
Leaders are positive. In order to achieve greatness, you must create a culture of optimism. They’ll be ups and downs, but the prevalence of positivity will keep the company going. Leaders believe in making the impossible possible.
Leaders are generous. They offer the best of themselves. We all grow as a collective whole when we build up others and help them grow as individuals. Givers gain. A rising tide raises all boats. The bible says when we give, we’ll receive tenfold.
Leaders show empathy, are kind and generous. They are more socially motivated.
Leaders are persistent. Persistence beats resistance. All great things take time, and you must persist no matter what. Leaders are willing to go beyond where others stop.
Leaders are insightful. It takes insight to separate the important from the trivial. It’s inherent. It’s improved with time. It has to exist in your character. It’s like wisdom. But, you have to pay attention.
Leaders communicate. They are constantly communicating. You must clearly convey expectations. Communication is a balancing act. It’s a two way street. Leaders solicit other’s thoughts and ideas. They also communicate their specific wants and needs. Work is treated as collaboration.
Leaders are accountable. They have character. Leaders hold themselves responsible and take responsibility for their mistakes. They don’t blame others. And, they take the next steps to making it right.
Leaders are restless. They are committed to excellence. They never settle for less. They look for the best in themselves and others. They maximize theirs and other’s abilities. They’re always looking for the right answers and asking the right questions. Even if that means looking outside themselves or their team.
Now you know what leadership is and what it takes to be a great leader. Are you a great leader? Are there things you can be doing to be a better leader? Your leadership will determine the success of your organization. Here’s to your success. Let me know if I can help.