What does leadership mean to you?
When you think of leaders, you may picture a business leader, politician, or freedom fighter.
But what are the qualities of a great leader?
I’ve scoured the internet to find the best answers, which I share in this article.
Let’s dive right in.
#1 A Leader Is a Visionary
AKA — the one with the “crazy” ideas.
Think about some of the great leaders throughout history, such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or Martin Luther King.
What did they all have in common?
The answer is — they were able to envision a new, different version of reality that their contemporaries couldn’t.
A leader thinks in a different way from those around them — but they also have the courage to believe their “crazy” goals could be a reality.
Because they know that if those that went before them could make their vision a reality, then they can, too.
#2 A Leader Is Convincing
Of course, a leader needs people to lead.
A visionary becomes a leader when they convince others to buy into their vision and participate in its creation.
Leadership means having the ability to convince people that their vision can become real — with the support of the right people.
Whether taking their company in a new direction or taking a position on important issues, a great leader has great communication skills.
They can bring their ideas to life in the minds of their team members or followers and inspire them to contribute to building that vision.
#3 A Leader Motivates
Leadership means knowing that your team will lose faith from time to time.
The best leaders help others believe that it can be done — especially when the going gets rough.
This is thanks to their own unshakeable faith in their goals.
They truly believe in the possibility of creating something better, and that gives them the ability to stay motivated while also motivating others.
#4 A Leader Anticipates
A good leader anticipates both potential obstacles and potential opportunities.
In business, this might mean an ability to spot future trends or predict the competition’s next move ahead of time.
These intuitive abilities make them flexible and adaptable in the face of both opportunities and threats.
One of the most important leadership skills is the ability to anticipate and react by helping your team change direction accordingly.
#5 A Leader Inspires
Leaders don’t just talk the talk; they also walk the walk.
A true leader is someone who leads by example, paving the way ahead for other people to follow.
Their achievements are aspirational, and this inspires others to believe they can follow in their footsteps.
Everyone has different aspirations — some of us pursue them; others don’t.
A true leader is someone who has strived to achieve their goals and, in doing so, shows others what’s possible for them, too.
#6 A Leader Spots Potential
The best leaders want the best from and for their team — because they know they would be nothing without them.
They can spot the potential of each individual member and support their growth by encouraging each person to develop their talent and potential.
Leadership means putting your team first — both as individuals and as a group — and making the realization of their potential a priority.
Because a true leader understands that helping one person reach their goals will benefit the entire organization or movement.
#7 A Leader Breaks the Rules
Not all the time — but they know when it’s necessary.
The best leaders live by the motto “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
But they also know when to rock the boat and when to keep in line — no one likes a rebel without a cause.
So leaders know they have to break the rules sometimes. The art and science is to know when.
#8 A Leader Learns From Their Mistakes
One of the most important leadership skills is knowing how to take responsibility for your actions.
No one is perfect, and even a great leader slips up sometimes.
But all good leaders own the outcomes of their decisions — whether good or bad. They’re willing to take risks and bounce back if they fail.
Because they know that failure is not the end — it’s just a bump on the road to success.
#9 A Leader Is Humble
A true leader knows they would be nothing without their people.
They may be the ones with the vision, but they know they can’t achieve it without the help of others.
Often, those are the ones who have the skills that leaders lack, such as technical skills or expert knowledge.
A bad leader has the arrogance to assume they always know best; a good leader knows that they can learn something from everyone they meet — including the members of their team.
Great leaders humbly accept praise for the achievements of their team, while giving credit to others where it’s due.
What Does Effective Leadership Mean to You?
According to the principles of transformational leadership, an effective leader is someone who does the following:
- Creates an inspiring vision of the future
- Motivates people to buy into and deliver the vision
- Oversees the delivery of the vision
- Builds trust-based relationships with their team members
You may notice there are people in leadership roles within your organization who do not display these qualities.
That’s because there’s a difference between leaders and managers.
Managers aren’t the ones with the vision, they’re the ones who help the leaders make their vision happen.
When you look at it this way, you might realize there are people in leadership roles who aren’t leaders at all, and people in subordinate roles who act like leaders.
Remember — having the qualities of a leader is not necessarily tied to your job title.
What Are the 3 Most Important Roles of a Leader?
The roles that a leader fulfills may vary depending on your organization, but there are some universal roles that all leaders should fulfill.
Three of the main ones are:
Vision — this is a core element of leadership. It’s impossible to lead people if you don’t know where you’re going, as you’ll never be able to convince them to support you as a leader without a common vision.
Communication — of course, good communication skills are essential in leadership. If you can’t communicate your ideas or strategy clearly to your team, it will be harder to get them to commit to your goals.
Inspiration — ultimately, a leader must inspire and motivate their team or followers. They know that the road to greatness is not smooth, but they believe in their team’s ability to achieve it.
What Are the 5 Qualities of a Good Leader?
Here are five of the most important qualities of a good leader:
Flexibility — the capacity to react in the face of unexpected circumstances.
Empathy — the ability to put themselves in the shoes of others and understand their point of view.
Humility — the recognition that they don’t know everything or have all the answers, and the knowledge that they cannot achieve their vision alone.
Self-awareness — the ability to objectively reflect on their failures, successes, strengths, and weaknesses.
Integrity — the courage to act according to moral and ethical principles.
How Do You Define Leadership in Your Own Words?
Now, I want to hear from you.
How would you define leadership in your own words?
Have you had any experiences with good or bad leaders?
Share them with me in the comments.
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