The Top 10 Leadership Qualities

Leadership can be defined as one's ability to get others to willingly follow. Every organization needs leaders at every level. Leaders can be found and nurtured if you look for the following character traits. A leader with vision has a clear, vivid picture of where to go, as well as a firm grasp on what success looks like and how to achieve it. But it’s not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it. Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion. A leader must be able to communicate his or her vision in terms that cause followers to follow into it. He or she must communicate clearly and passionately, as passion is contagious. A good leader must have the discipline to work toward his or her vision singlemindedly, as well as to direct his or her actions and those of the team toward the goal. Action is the mark of a leader. A leader does not suffer “analysis paralysis” but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others to do the same. Integrity is the integration of outward actions and inner values. A person of integrity is the same on the outside and on the inside. Such an individual can be trusted because he or she never veers from inner values, even when it might be expeditious to do so. A leader must have the trust of followers and therefore must display integrity. Honest dealings, predictable reactions, well-controlled emotions, and an absence of tantrums and harsh outbursts are all signs of integrity. A leader who is centered in integrity will be more approachable by followers. Dedication means spending whatever time or energy is necessary to accomplish the task at hand. A leader inspires dedication by example, doing whatever it takes to complete the next step toward the vision. By setting an excellent example, leaders can show followers that there are no nine-to-five jobs on the team, only opportunities to achieve something great. Magnanimity means giving credit where it is due. A magnanimous leader ensures that credit for successes is spread as widely as possible throughout the team. Conversely, a good leader takes personal responsibility for failures. This sort of reverse magnanimity helps other people feel good about themselves and draws the team closer together. To spread the fame and take the blame is a hallmark of effective leadership. Leaders with humility recognize that they are no better or worse than other members of the team. A humble leader is not self-effacing but rather tries to elevate everyone. Leaders with humility also understand that their status does not make them a god. Openness means being able to listen to new ideas, even if they do not

conform to the usual way of thinking. Good leaders are able to suspend judgment while listening to others’ ideas, as well as accept new ways of doing things that someone else thought of. Openness builds mutual respect and trust between leaders and followers, and it also keeps the team well supplied with new ideas that can further its vision. Creativity is the ability to think differently, to get outside of the box that constrains solutions. Creativity gives leaders the ability to see things that others have not seen and thus lead followers in new directions. The most important question that a leader can ask is, “What if … ?” Possibly the worst thing a leader can say is, “I know this is a dumb question ... ” Fairness means dealing with others consistently and justly. A leader must check all the facts and hear everyone out before passing judgment. He or she must avoid leaping to conclusions based on incomplete evidence. When people feel they that are being treated fairly, they reward a leader with loyalty and dedication. Assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. Rather, it is the ability to clearly state what one expects so that there will be no misunderstandings. A leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their leader. A sense of humor is vital to relieve tension and boredom, as well as to defuse hostility. Effective leaders know how to use humor to energize followers. Humor is a form of power that provides some control over the work environment. And simply put, humor fosters good camaraderie. Intrinsic traits such as intelligence, good looks, height and so on are not necessary to become a leader. Anyone can cultivate the proper leadership traits.

Qualities of a Leader — How to Acquire Them
Leaders are both born and made. See if you have what it takes to be a leader, and what you can do to improve the skills you already have. Leaders don't become leaders overnight. Even “born” leaders don’t start out possessing all these skills. To be a strong leader, you need to: 1. Have vision. Leaders have a clear sense of where they want to go and how they intend to get there. They see the big picture, then create a strategic plan for achieving their goals. Learn how to develop your vision : Befriend top other leaders in your community, read new and classic business books and great leaders’ biographies, and formulate a mission statement for your community.

2. Make decisions. Leaders aren’t afraid to make difficult or unpopular decisions because they have confidence in themselves and in their abilities. They know that indecision wastes resources and opportunities. Learn to hone your decision-making skills : Practice making decisions in areas where failure isn’t critical to increase your confidence. If a decision turns out to be wrong, learn from it and move on. 3. Take risks. Leaders have the courage to act in situations where results aren’t assured. They're willing to risk failure. Learn how to take risks: Analyze the situation, listing pros and cons for each option, then assign each choice a risk factor rating from 1 to 5. Next determine the likelihood that each outcome will occur. This will help you determine how much risk you want to take. TIP: Don't expect perfection. No one wins all the time. Leaders grow by making mistakes. 4. Motivate others. Leaders can articulate their vision and ideals to others, convincing them of the value of their ideas. They can inspire people to work toward common goals and to achieve things they never thought they could do. Learn how to motivate people: Explore the different needs that motivate people and recognize that the same rewards don’t motivate everyone. Listen carefully to others to learn what motivates them. TIP: Motivate members by making sure they understand how their work contributes to a larger goal. 5. Build teams. Leaders create productive teams that draw the best from people. They effectively coach teams in collaboration, consensus building, and conflict resolution. Learn how to improve your team building skills : Avoid preconceived answers to every question. Concentrate on appreciating different points of view during discussions rather than just trying to prove your point. This same willingness to include others is the key to successful team building. 6. Possess self-knowledge. Leaders know their own strengths and weaknesses and are able to view their behavior objectively. They recognize their shortcomings, open themselves to feedback, and are willing to make changes when necessary. Learn how to expand your self-knowledge : Study yourself closely and practice self-assessment techniques to learn how you behave and the effects you have on others. Ask others for their opinions or criticisms and what you can do to become a better leader. TIP: Keep a journal of critical incidents; look back and learn what you did well and what you might have done better.

7. Display integrity. Leaders must be trustworthy before others will follow them. Leadership qualities that establish trust are competence, constancy, caring, candor, and congruity, which defines as authenticity, reliability, and feeling comfortable with oneself. Learn how to assess your integrity: Actively seek feedback from others friends, members, and even relatives to determine if your values and sense of responsibility coincide with those of your peer group. 8. Pursue lifelong learning. Leaders have a desire to continually learn and grow and are open to new ideas. Learn how to expand your knowledge: Maintain a broad focus. Look beyond your colleagues and your own community for ideas and inspiration and read books on leadership theories and ideas. TIP: Wise managers look for support members or partners who complement their weaknesses. 9. Communicate effectively. Leaders can convey their ideas to diverse individuals and adjust their styles to meet the needs of the people they lead. Learn how to improve communication skills : Practice communications skills such as active listening. Read between the lines during conversations, especially when dealing with subordinates who may be reluctant to say what they think. Restate important points in several ways or ask listeners to reiterate your point to you to ensure that your meaning is clear. 10. Help others succeed. Leaders empower others and go out of their way to help them achieve their full potential, thereby benefiting the organization. Give a boost to others: Mentor individuals you feel are able to assume leadership roles.