What are the characteristics, attributes, and skills that go into the making of a leader? There may well be dozens of items that could be listed allow me to list nine:
- Honesty/integrity. There is no school to attend, no course to take and no immunization that will make you an honest person. You either are or you are not an honest person. Integrity and honesty are much like oxygen, not something we think about until it is gone. Once you lose your integrity you are finished as a leader. You may continue to operate with the title, but your influence will wane and people will stop listening and following you. A leader needs to always guard their heart and remember it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and it can be lost in an unguarded moment! Be an honest leader
- Resilient. There are ups and downs in all of life but especially for someone who is leading. Things do not always work out the way you planned. You will deal with both high and low moments, do not let your lows destroy you or your highs go to your head. Keep everything in balance. Learn to be resilient and bounce back from the adversities that you will face and do not give in and quit.
- Commitment. It is essential that the leader is committed to the goal and dreams of the organization they serve. Some of your time as a leader will be to convince people to buy into the mission. If you do not believe in it and are not committed to it, you will get no one else to believe the mission. Commitment is a prerequisite for the leader.
- Influence. John Maxwell speaks all of the time about “leadership is influence.” As a leader, you will be called upon to lead in situations where everything is not clear and direct and people will look to you for answers. If they trust you they will follow, it will mostly depend on whether you have influence with the person, in essence, do they trust you?
- Passion. What are you excited about? Do you love what you do? To be a difference maker you have to have passion. The sad truth is that many do not love what they do. Figure out what you are passionate about and do it. If you can not stop what you are doing presently, Find something you believe in passionately. In the meantime do your best to move into an area that you are passionate about. Many people are miserable because they are just going through the motions. Give yourself totally to what you are doing, that is how passion is born.
- Gets things done. It is called execution. Leading is more than devising plans and setting goals. You must move your ideas and goal through to completion. Saying something is not the same as doing something. What separates leaders is the ability to complete things and bring resolution to the vision and goals that have been set. You must not only be able to start, but you also have to be able to finish projects and tasks.
- Humility. When one is in the spotlight it is difficult to maintain a spirit of humility. Leadership, as well as life, has a way of keeping us humble. Remember who you are and where you have come from, and that we are all recipients of grace. Treat life as a precious gift and remember you have been helped by a lot of people to get to where you are today. Stay humble!
- Empathy. Leaders must learn to develop the skill of seeing things from the perspective of others. Try to step back and view things from a different vantage point. This will broaden your view of things and give you the ability to not get stuck with only one viewpoint. You will not only need to sympathize with people, but you must also develop the ability to empathize with others. Empathy is the ability to feel and see things from another’s vantage point. Empathy is a powerful tool for a leader.
- Accountability. Leaders get into trouble when they start to act as someone who does not have to follow the rules or as someone who does not need to be held accountable. All of us must be held accountable for our actions and attitudes and behavior. Leaders that do well are those who understand that they are persons who are accountable to all the stakeholders.
You are leading somewhere, at the minimum we must lead ourselves!