Ten Essential Leadership Traits

If you’re paying attention at all to such articles, you’ll notice that there is a lot of material out there on the top ten qualities that leaders should have, that entrepreneurs have, that politicians should have . . . whatever – it all boils down to the fact that in this world, people are curious to know what qualities make up a leader.  Some of these can easily be cultivated, some take more determination, and some of them will no doubt be the subject of some contention that they’re inherent or inborn or whatever (hint – they aren’t, and arrogance is not one anyway).  So what qualities make a leader?

Determination

You have to know what drives you, and follow that – leaders are rarely apathetic by nature, so you have to know what you want and pursue that. Determination is essential, because leaders need to stand firm in their objectives.  If you don’t have determination, you won’t get very far at all in your pursuits.

Humility

Arrogance is generally seen as a negative trait, and good leaders tend to recognize this – there’s a difference between arrogance and confidence.    To be an effective leader, you need to  have a sense of humility, because if you don’t, you won’t be likeable, and it would be difficult to gain a following.

Flexibility/ Open-Mindedness

(c) 123rf.com
(c) 123rf.com

As a leader, you have every right to be stubborn, but don’t let this be your folly.  If you’re running a business, you have to adapt to the realities of the market and the economy; if you’re a politician, you have to retain your appeal to the masses.  I once knew a business owner whose restaurant failed miserably within two months, mainly because his idea of how to run the place owed much to that philosophy of “my way or the highway.”  Make no mistake – you have every right to your ideas and visions, regardless of what other people think, but it can also be incredibly stupid to not listen to people when they’re giving you genuine advice that could serve your interests.  In order to be a good leader, you have to take the ideas of other people into account (not implement them, just understand them), and adapt from there.

Creativity

Creativity is an important trait to have as a leader, so it’s paramount to cultivate this if you intend on being successful as one.  After all, anyone can follow what’s always been done, what’s commonplace – but leaders need to be innovative.  And you can’t be innovative without being creative.

(c) Blog.Chaukat.com

Delegation

As a leader, you need to be able to effectively delegate tasks to others, finding the right people for the right job.  If you can do this, you can be a very effective leader, because you’ll need other people to help you see your vision through – if you can’t, then your ideas will undoubtedly remain as simply ideas and never move beyond that stage.

Honesty

You can, in theory, be a leader without any honesty whatsoever – it’s been done many times over the course of history.  But honesty and integrity are very important if you want to build trust in people, which is essential to getting people to follow you as a leader.   You can build up a following on lies, but ultimately that would be detrimental to seeing your goals through because if people can’t trust you, they won’t really stand with you.

Confidence

Leaders tend to exude confidence, and it’s quite essential to have confidence in your ideas if you want people to follow you.  Excessive self-confidence is a negative trait, but you should still demonstrate confidence in your ideas if you want to lead, because if you don’t have confidence in them certainly no one else will either.

(C) Getty Images

Communication

Of all of the traits that leaders need to have, communication is one of the most important if you actually want to get anywhere. After all, leadership is based more on your ideas and how you communicate them – for better or worse, most leaders with a large following or a successful enterprise have been great orators. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about politicians like Barack Obama or Narendra Modi – regardless of how you feel about them, both gained their popularity because of their strong communication skills – or if you’re talking about visionary business leaders like the late Steve Jobs – who figured out how to communicate his vision to the people he relied on to execute it.

Charisma

Apathetic leaders hardly exist, with effective leaders tending to draw in people with their sheer energy.  Not only must you care about what you do and what you stand for, but it’s important to show that too. No one wants to follow someone whose attitude towards things demonstrates no excitement or enthusiasm whatsoever, because that just isn’t at all inspiring. Having charisma inspires people, and if you can do this, you would do well with leadership positions.

Commitment

You can’t really be any sort of leader without a sense of commitment to your cause – so if you don’t cultivate one, you won’t really make it in any sort of leadership position.  After all, leaders tend to hold power, and no one without any semblance of commitment can be trusted with power – nor would anyone stand for it.

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