According to John C. Maxwell’s definition, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Regardless of how you look to define a leader, they must have the qualities that create success rather than failure. Throughout time, there have been many different qualities to describe leaders. Leaders can exude the right combination of charisma, enthusiasm, and self-assurance. There is a common misconception that these traits are innate and that some of the most prominent leaders in history never had to work to develop leadership skills. However, most great leaders have had to develop leadership traits over time, through periods of trial and error and hard work. Below is a review of some of the most prominent leadership traits:
As a leader, you need to have a clear vision. Jack Welch says, “good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.” Great leaders are able to identify clearly where they are trying to go and what they want to accomplish. The passion for their vision motivates members of their team. They are able to, as Jack Welch says, “articulate the vision” in such a way that gravitates people towards them. This quality is one of the primary traits of a leader.
Leaders must have confidence, not only in the members of their team but also in themselves. If someone is unsure of their actions, then people will not be as willing to follow. As a leader, an aura of confidence and assertiveness is essential if you want to the gain respect of others. Your confidence will influence others to feel confident in what they are doing and in your vision. While having real confidence is important, being overconfident can be a significant detriment to true leadership. Trust is a key element of leadership and having well-placed confidence assures the people following you can trust you as their leader.
Arnold H. Glasow said, “a good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit.” This approach is another aspect of an effective leader. A good leader not only holds his team accountable for what they are doing, but holds himself more accountable. If a team is doing well, a good leader acknowledges that and gives most of the credit to the team members. If a team is struggling, a good leader helps them recognize an opportunity for improvement and looks at himself first, to see what improvements he can make foremost.
Effective leaders are able to evolve and innovate with their creativity. Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and follower.” A great leaders is resourceful and creative, being able to think outside of the box and turn those ideas into reality.