Managers tell. Leaders inspire.
Leaders bring out the best in others.
Titles do not make good leaders.
Leaders understand the value of serving others.
The above statements are all representative of the qualities of a leader. Good leaders understand the qualities needed to get others to follow them. It’s not just about making rules or giving instruction.
Leaders can develop at any level of an organization or at any age. The toddler who the other kids always swarm around is a leader. That child hasn’t read John Maxwell’s book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. She hasn’t taken a management training course. If one is lucky, leadership will come naturally.
Natural leaders have the qualities of a leader from an early age. If they do not demonstrate those qualities of a good leader early in life, those qualities can be developed through intentional persistence.
So what are these qualities of a leader so you can have them? As seen here, there are many qualities of a leader valued by others. These seven, however, are the most important qualities of a good leader in my view:
1. Trustworthy – You have to be able to trust your leader. If you do not trust him, you will not follow willingly. Being trustworthy is the most important of all the qualities of a leader. For some, it will take years to earn the trust of your followers. Others earn trust immediately based on their personality and actions.
2. Honesty – Honesty goes hand-in-hand with being trustworthy. Honesty, though, is not earned like trust is. Instead, it is deliberate. If a leader is caught to have told one lie or even a tiny mis-truth, his leadership ability will falter.
3. Decisiveness – Good leaders make decisions. They don’t hem and haw over the options. They take action and make the decision. This does not mean the decisions are not based on facts or the input of others. Quite the opposite. Once a leader has all the information needed to make a decision, she makes it.
4. Humility – A good leader knows her position as the leader is due to the efforts and assistance of predecessors and subordinates. She will ask for help and listen to advice when needed. There is nothing too big or small for the leader to do. She will not ask someone to do something she is not willing to do herself. Humility also includes admitting when she makes a mistake.
5. Good communicator – How many bosses have you had who could not communicate well? Bad communicators are all around us. They cannot (or will not) speak their thoughts and desires in a way that others understand and are able to follow. Their writing is filled with mistakes that detract from the message. Or, they haven’t earned subordinates’ trust and respect so they want to take action.
6. Visionary – A good leader has a vision of tomorrow. He sees where the group, company or himself needs to be in the future. Being a visionary is more than having a dream, however. It’s about communicating the vision and executing on a plan to achieve the vision.
7. Servant – The role of a leader is to take care of the followers. The leader does everything in her power to make the followers better so that the vision can be obtained. She helps, supports and provides resources for the followers.
Leaders are all around you. They come in all forms. The qualities of a leader, however, are many. We could create a list of 50 or more qualities of a leader we want to see in our bosses. Unfortunately, few leaders have all of those qualities.
If you have the seven qualities of a good leader described above, fasten your seatbelt because you are on the way to greatness. Maybe you realize you have four of these qualities of a leader but want to have the remaining three. Be intentional about gaining the other three.
To gain the other three qualities of a leader, you must fully understand each quality. Read some good leadership books to gain that understanding. Don’t just read them though. Take action. If you need help, ask a leader you know to mentor you.
We need more great leaders in this world. Will you be one of them?