The Seven Leadership Qualities of Great Leaders
More than 50 qualities have been identified that are important to great leaders. But there are seven leadership qualities that seem to stand out as being more important than the others. The good news is that each of these Leadership qualities can be learned, and they must be learned by practice and repetition.
Great leaders have vision. They can see into the future. They have a clear, exciting idea of where they are going and what they are trying to accomplish and are excellent at strategic planning.
This quality separates them from managers. Having a clear vision turns the individual into a special type of person. This quality of vision changes a ‘‘transactional manager’’ into a ‘‘transformational leader.’’ While a manager gets the job done, great leaders tap into the emotions of their employees.
‘‘Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.’’ (Winston Churchill)
The quality of courage means that you are willing to take risks in the achievement of your goals with no assurance of success. Because there is no certainty in life or business, every commitment you make and every action you take entails a risk of some kind. Among the seven leadership qualities, courage is the most identifiable outward trait.
In every strategic planning session that I have conducted for large and small corporations, the first value that all the gathered executives agree upon for their company is integrity. They all agree on the importance of complete honesty in everything they do, both internally and externally.
The core of integrity is truthfulness. Integrity requires that you always tell the truth, to all people, in every situation. Truthfulness is the foundation quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any business.
Great leaders are those who are strong and decisive but also humble. Humility doesn’t mean that you’re weak or unsure of yourself. It means that you have the self-confidence and self awareness to recognize the value of others without feeling threatened. It means that you are willing to admit you could be wrong, that you recognize you may not have all the answers. And it means that you give credit where credit is due.
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Humility gets results. Larry Bossidy, the former CEO of Honeywell and author of the book Execution, explained why humility makes you a more effective leader: ‘‘The more you can contain your ego, the more realistic you are about your problems. You learn how to listen, and admit that you don’t know all the answers. You exhibit the attitude that you can learn from anyone at any time. Your pride doesn’t get in the way of gathering the information you need to achieve the best results. It doesn’t keep you from sharing the credit that needs to be shared. Humility allows you to acknowledge your mistakes.’’
Great leaders are outstanding at strategic planning. They have the ability to look ahead, to anticipate with some accuracy where the industry and the markets are going.
Leaders have the ability to anticipate trends, well in advance of their competitors. They continually ask, ‘‘Based on what is happening today, where is the market going? Where is it likely to be in three months, six months, one year, and two years?’’ through thoughtful strategic planning.
Because of increasing competitiveness, only the leaders and organizations that can accurately anticipate future markets can possibly survive. Only leaders with foresight can gain the ‘‘first mover advantage.’’
Leaders always focus on the needs of the company and the situation. Leaders focus on results, on what must be achieved by themselves, by others, and by the company. Great leaders focus on strengths, in themselves and in others. They focus on the strengths of the organization, on the things that the company does best in satisfying demanding customers in a competitive marketplace.
Your ability as a leader to call the shots and make sure that everyone is focused and concentrated on the most valuable use of their time is essential to the excellent performance of the enterprise.
Your ability to get everyone working and pulling together is essential to your success. Leadership is the ability to get people to work for you because they want to.
The 80/20 rule applies here. Twenty percent of your people contribute 80 percent of your results. Your ability to select these people and then to work well with them on a daily basis is essential to the smooth functioning of the organization.
Gain the cooperation of others by making a commitment to get along well with each key person every single day. You always have a choice when it comes to a task: You can do it yourself, or you can get someone else to do it for you. Which is it going to be?
7 Leadership Qualities of Great Leaders
Most of the time, leaders think about the qualities of leadership and how to apply them daily.
The most important contribution you can make to your company is to be a leader, accept responsibility for results, and dare to go forward.
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