There is much debate about whether leaders are born or created. Some contend that leaders are ‘naturally endowed’ with a talent for leadership while others argue that leaders can be ‘grown’ and developed as they learn leadership skills. Both points of view have merit. Debating the origin of leaders is less productive than looking at the qualities that set leaders apart from others.
Focusing on this dimension assumes that leaders can be developed and allows us to remain open to growth. The division between how successful a leader is depends on certain qualities. Good leadership depends on exhibiting these tenets whether it is learned or the abilities are innate. Here are the eight most important qualities of effective leadership:
- Integrity: Good leaders live by a set of internal principles that enhance the well-being of humankind. They walk their talk and live by an exemplary personal code of ethics garnering the respect and trust of their followers. Effective leaders deliver on their promises and can be counted on to be there in the shifting tides of day to day activity. Leaders with integrity are fair and consistent in their decisions, and consider the human factors involved.
- Humility: Outstanding leaders constantly seek to understand who they are, becoming ever more conscious of their deep motivations for doing what they do. They are curious as to what motivates them to make the decisions that guide their lives and the lives of others. To be humble is to have a realistic view of oneself-not too high or too low. True humility means that leaders are realistic in self-perception and self-presentation. This inspires trust and respect in others.
- Understand what makes people tick. Strong leaders are not as concerned about power and influence as they are about understanding what motivates people . A good leader will be curious to understand the human personality and always try to understand why people do what they do. Understanding business and understanding human motivation go hand in hand.
- Commitment: Good leaders have the internal resolve to put consistent energy behind a vision. They always keep the long term view in mind and are prepared to prioritize their tasks to get the job done. Committed leaders are able to put the goal in focus and are prepared to make personal sacrifices for the achievement of the vision.
- Self Regulation: Effective leaders are dedicated to self-mastery. They are disciplined in creating structure as no one else is there to do this for them. Leaders regulate themselves rather than relying on an outside authority. Instead of waiting for a boss to impose external guidelines, leaders establish internal strategies and let these become their guides.
- Established Vision: Effective leaders are guided by a vision and place their stamp of clarity and passion upon it. Their enthusiasm for the same draws others to them, rallying their support. There is no substitute for a vision that is driven with passion and clarity. Where there is no vision, there is no leadership.
- Adaptable yet Centered: Leaders are flexible and adapt willingly to new information and unexpected turns in the road. They process feedback sensitively yet wisely, always remaining anchored to their original vision and personal principles. They are able to make meaningful shifts without compromising the vision or themselves.
- Lead by Example: All the qualities of good leadership can be nullified if leaders don’t practice what they preach. They can expect much from their followers if they expect more from themselves. Effective leaders lead by modeling the behaviors, attitudes and ethics they are asking of others. Thus leaders gain respect and devotion from their followers.
At the end of the day, leaders must exemplify the behaviors and qualities of good leadership in order to create an environment where people want to follow. Anything less and you may be just ‘pulling’ instead of ‘leading’ and that is not good leadership.