How do you define a great leader?
It is not enough to simply spark innovation in your respective field. Great leaders must inspire the next generation of thinkers and innovators.
Are the true greats born into leadership or taught the skills to become who they are today? This is a question that is always in hot debate, but when you break down the key characteristics of a leader, you will find that you can attain all of these characteristics through education and hard work.
Here are some of the key traits that define great leaders:
1. The Courage to Persevere
When was the last time that you saw a great leader wallow in self-pity? My guess would be never. They know that the only way to achieve what others have not is through failure. The only way to succeed after failure is to embrace the lesson learned, and overcome it. A great leader is more likely to say, “On to the next one!” than to display any form of self-pity.
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
2. Model Work Ethic
Everyone knows that results are not immediate, especially the ones that are desirable. The motivation and passion required to put in the work that no one else will do creates opportunities that can determine the leader you will be. You cannot expect anyone to follow you if you blend in with the crowd. You have to stand out and act as the prime model.
“Let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” – Theodore Roosevelt
3. Ability to Welcome Change
You will not find opportunity and success in a stagnant environment, so change is welcomed with open arms by true leaders. You may be stuck in a stagnant moment right now, but repetitive activities will not change your situation, so this would be a prime opportunity to explore what kinds of changes need to be made and to take the leap toward those changes with open arms.
With change comes new challenges. These moments are gold for any leader to take advantage of. The life of a great leader is one of constant obstacles, failures, and risks, otherwise known as “learning experiences”. Therefore, a slow or complacent patch is a terrible moment to get stuck in.
4. Stay Accountable
If you can’t rely on someone to keep to their word, then how can you follow them? Without accountability there is no chance of leadership. We are human and people do make mistakes, so we can expect leaders to make mistakes at times also. The difference is that the leaders who can be accountable for those mistakes and admit when they are wrong will earn the respect and lasting loyalty of their employees and followers.
Looking into this from the employee’s perspective, this infographic from Pepperdine University shows that every 1 in every 5 employees feels that trust is the most important component of an employee-boss relationship.
5. The Ability to Inspire
Anyone can stand in front of a crowd and put words together, but we don’t want the professor who put us all to sleep with his lectures as a public speaker, do we? We want to be motivated when we leave the room to take our job to the next level with a new sense of passion.
The strongest leaders are the ones that can change the atmosphere of the room just by entering, and when he or she leaves the room, everyone has absorbed the excitement and passion, leaving with a new sense of loyalty and pride.
6. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence consists of five major categories:
- Social skills
The life of a leader is fast-paced and stressful, so to prevent from folding under that pressure, you have to work on your emotional intelligence. Some would even say that EI is more important than IQ since a person with high EI is less likely to fold under the pressure and more likely to make logical business decisions and to lead by example. EI is one of the most important skills to have, considering the chaotic lifestyle any leader has to endure on a daily basis.
We have seen first-hand with Apple how two leaders can use these same traits in slightly different ways to completely change a company. This goes to show that even though we may lead with similar traits, we have to find our own balance to succeed. Not every leader is the same, but these traits among others are within all of us to be a great leader.
I’d Love to Hear from You
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