3 Characteristics a Leader Must Have

The world is constantly changing and our economy is not just a global one, but a hyper-competitive global economy; with this said, there are opportunities aplenty for leaders to advance quite rapidly. Conversely leaders who lack the necessary characteristics or habits to effectively move about in this fast-paced global economy will quickly sink to the bottom.

Three Characteristics a Leader Must Have:

Self-Aware

If a leader lacks personal self-awareness, it can be one of the biggest detriments to them becoming a great leader.  If an individual has a complete lack of self-awareness, it can cripple their potential to develop the other two characteristics properly.  One important key in becoming more self-aware is by being proactive.  What I mean by being proactive is taking personal responsibility in life to realize that the decisions you are making have put you in the situations you’re in – whether good or bad.  To become the great leader we are destined to be, we need to take responsibility for our choices and the consequences that ensue.  Understand that the greatest leaders will make mistakes.  The best leaders will get mad, make mistakes, and hurt people.  What separates the great leaders from the rest of the pack is their obsessive desire to never stop learning and never stop growing as a person.  We must never become so complacent that we believe there’s no more room for us to grow.  I believe former President John F. Kennedy wrote it best “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” This is the ethos of a great leader.

Work Seamlessly with Others

A key characteristic that a great leader possesses is the ability to work seamlessly with others; a great leader will strive to find solutions that are mutually beneficial to all parties involved.  In addition, they will listen not with the mindset of replying, but with the mindset of listening to understand where that person is coming from.  I think we’ve all been the victims of people who are listening to us with the intent of just replying and not wanting to understand our position or where we’re coming from.  Furthermore, we need to create a culture of welcoming the little guy and the ideas that our direct reports may have.  This is key because if we do this, it fosters an atmosphere where creativity and ingenuity are flourishing.  As much as we’d like to think it’s so – not all great ideas come from us. Sometimes that young kid we just hired out of college may have a good idea too, but we’ll never hear that young kid’s idea if there isn’t an atmosphere where creativity is flourishing and even the little guy can contribute to the development of the team.  Great leaders create an environment where people can be at their “biggest.” We’ve all been in situations where people have made us smaller and feel less capable.  Great leaders know that their perspective isn’t the only truth.  This in turn creates an atmosphere of caring and positive problem solving.

Asking the Right Questions

Every great leader in the business world or in NGO’s have a common trait that they share – they all excel at asking the right questions.  I like the old Peter Drucker quote, “There’s nothing more dangerous than the right answer to the wrong question.”  This is why we see organizational gridlock; we’re asking the wrong questions.  Great leaders know how to see a problem and ask the question behind the question, but not only do they know how to ask the right questions themselves, they know how to teach others how to do it as well.  Both parts are critical because the world we’re going into within the next five, ten, fifteen years is gonna be wild and crazy out there in the future.  The only way to succeed is to see the problem from a different perspective and to ascertain the results that no one else is seeing to this wild terrain we’re walking into.  The only way to do that is to ask the right question and in turn develop our team to ask the right questions as well.

In Conclusion

A leader needs these habits to be great

It’s important for a leader to get there team moving in the right direction to have the necessary characteristics that will facilitate personal, team, and organizational success.  However, not everyone is born with these characteristics innate; the good news is – THAT DOESN’T MATTER!!!  You can develop these traits just like any other habit by being intentional and purposeful.

A transformational leader knows how to prepare for these opportunities by creating a very high standard for themselves.  Leaders need to develop a habit of knowledgeability and they need to inculcate it into their peers while being able to give strong direction.  To succeed in our current economy, leaders need to develop key habits in their life.


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