Some say leaders are born leaders. Some say they’re created! Some say it starts with a desire to become one, then one works towards it.
Either way, leaders are people we respect, follow/believe their vision. They’re definitely different from managers, check out my other post Leadership OR Management – 8 Differences.
Regardless of how they come about, they are judged based on a number of things from how/if they inspire others, whether they drive people towards becoming better versions of themselves, whether they hold people accountable etc.
Below are the 9 main characteristics that I believe are of a strong/great leader.
1. Self-discipline / Control
We know people make mistakes and sometimes scandals happen BUT in history every great leader has had to become a master of self-discipline and willpower in order to stay focused on the big picture. A leader who’s not self-disciplined will not project a good image thus making it difficult for followers to believe or trust him.
A good leader follows through in everything they do. As challenging as it may be, they’re disciplined enough to be where they need to be, when they need to be, and whether they want to or not. By being strong in their resolve and resisting temptation to give up, they set an example for others to live up to.
3. Emotional response
Silencing one’s inner thoughts either comes naturally to some OR is an art that some great leaders practice. A great leader will silence their inner thoughts when they're not appropriate in order to set a positive example. They know how to respond to a situation despite their emotions.
4. Goal projection
Firstly, a leader who doesn’t have a goal or the drive to achieve it can’t lead others to attain their goals, PERIOD!
A good leader will be clear on goals and get their team/followers involved in the planning process and subsequently the implementation of the ideas. Sometimes people will make a plan then ask followers to implement – while this may work, involving followers and team members in the planning gives everyone a greater sense of ownership towards the end result.
5. Great communicator
If followers don't completely understand the deeper meaning in their work, they won't share the vision or work ethic. So, a great leader will communicate with their followers every step of the way, to ensure they're on the same wavelength and know what’s expected of them.
6. Praising and criticizing
The way a leader praises and criticizes others makes a difference especially in the followers. A great leader praises highly and criticizes constructively.
7. KNOW their people.
One cannot truly lead a group of people unless they truly understand their hopes, dreams, struggles, pains, and goals. All the good intentions in the world mean nothing unless one has a true sense of the people they’re working with.
A strong leader will:
8. KNOW when to lead and when to follow
They say as a leader you can’t expect someone to do what you can’t do. This applies to being a follower – a great leader will know when to lead and when to follow. It’s that understanding / knowing that you’re not always the smartest in the room, thus allowing experts in areas you’re not strong yourself to lead in other areas.
9. Decisiveness / Making the hard call
There are times when a leader has to bite the bullet and make some unpleasant decisions. Firing, demoting, restructuring, and holding people accountable for their actions can be very hard at times. A great leader will be aware of their responsibility to handle these matters and deal with integrity.
Actions speak louder than words. In order to gain the respect of others, a leader has to lead by example. They also must be disciplined themselves otherwise it’s difficult for followers to trust them.
Are you a leader or do you know a leader? Do the above sound right or are there other qualities you look for in a great leader? Please shares your thoughts/comments below. Would love to hear from you.