Who is a leader? How do you identify and differentiate between a leader and a follower? The difference is quite obvious since a leader leads and a follower follows. However, there is more to it than this simple definition.
Any person, in a leading position, can lead. But that does not make them a leader. To be a leader, one must possess certain capabilities and nurture the growth of specific traits within their personalities. To be able to develop essential qualities and to follow them by heart is what makes a leader!
Below, we have listed 8 essential qualities which most of the great leaders possess:
1. Passion and Commitment
A leader’s job is not limited to getting a task done. Instead, it encompasses passion and commitment as well. A leader is the one who is passionate about their work and is committed enough to achieve positive results at any cost. Such dedication is required since it instills a sense of responsibility in the team members as well.
If the leaders are busy giving tasks their best shot, it will not only gain the respect of their team members, but it will also infuse a new sense of energy in them. This will help them perform better. On the other hand, a leader lacking in passion or someone who is not entirely committed will have a difficult time motivating their team members.
2. Great Communication Skills
The ability to communicate well is a valued skill, not just in employees, but in leaders as well. Clearly, the one who can effectively communicate their ideas, vision or thoughts is the one who will see positive results.
Since great communication skills are an essential trait, leaders must know how to utilize them to motivate and instruct or guide their team members. Words have the power to push people to do the unthinkable and anyone who can master it can be a great leader.
It’s also important to notice that communication skills are not just about conveying thoughts in the best manner since it also encompasses the ability to listen well!
3. Holding Oneself Accountable
If something goes awry, leaders must be ready to hold themselves or their teams responsible without being unjust in their conduct. This kind of behavior will make the team see their mistakes and will create a sense of responsibility among them. They will strive to improve and deal with their work more seriously. Keep in mind that constant criticism will only belittle the employees. So, the leaders should know when to praise or criticise someone.
“Accountability separates the wishers in life from the action-takers that care enough about their future to account for their daily actions.” – John Di Lemme
4. Demonstration of Integrity
Integrity is honest conduct and how can one be a good leader without cultivating the right values in their character? As D. Eisenhower puts it, “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity.”
Having integrity and honesty are the most important leadership qualities as it enables leaders to stand up for what they believe in. That said, integrity is a start of mind rather than something that is situational. Leaders should not be able to choose when to lie and when to tell the truth.
A great leader is the one who sticks with integrity and instills similar values in their team members. To see how fair one can be when everyone around them is being dishonest is a true mark of leadership!
5. Managerial Competence
We often hear that great leaders once started out by being good workers. Since good workers understand the company’s policies, know the products/services well, and generally are hard workers, we can understand why many people say that!
While working hard is a great trait, not every hard worker possesses leadership qualities. For instance, someone in a law firm who knows how to do something a bit better could be more of a leader than someone in a more commanding position. This is because, at the end of the day, the ability to motivate, mentor, and guide others matter more than just doing your job!
6. Delegation and Empowerment
A single individual will fall short of accomplishing everything at once and leaders realize this before anyone else does. This is why great leaders tend to delegate smaller tasks to their team members while directing their focus on major tasks. Through this way, great leaders not only empower their employees but they also display a sense of trust which further motivates the team to perform better.
On the other hand, leaders that continue to micromanage hinder the abilities of their team members. Apart from a feeling of distrust, this behavior often leads to subpar results.
7. Enthusiastic Spirit
Individuals become leaders because they are passionate and enthusiastic about their profession. They love what they do, and they try to instill the same amount of passion in other people. Even if they are not trying to achieve the latter, their energy can still become contagious.
While an enthusiastic spirit can never act as a substitute for other leadership qualities, it can make a difference when combined with other existing qualities or skills. All of this is what makes a leader successful in their profession.
Being a leader can be a challenging task because not everyone will agree with their ideas. In addition, they may lack the skills or knowledge to tackle a particular task. However, combined with an upbeat spirit, leaders can remain positive and work with other people to find solutions.
“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell
8. Creativity and Innovation
The thing that separates a leader from a follower is that the former has a vision and the creative drive to accomplish the unthinkable. The creator of the Apple, Steve Jobs, puts it perfectly, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Having creativity is not enough. Instead, individuals must be ready to transform their creative spirit into an innovation that sets them apart from the rest. This is the true quality of a leader that constantly pushes them out of their safe zones and forces them to think outside the norm.
Shocking, not ordinary, is the way to go! Fortunately, many leaders realize this early on and because of this, they strive to push boundaries.
A leader is not the one who has secured a commanding position in a firm. Instead, it is the one that has the natural drive to mentor, motivate, and guide other people. On top of this, a natural born leader is the one that identifies a weakness and strives hard to bring a solution.
Not everyone is or can be a natural born leader. Individuals must strive hard to cultivate leadership qualities in their characters to truly become a leader. Because of this, the essential qualities listed above, if applied correctly, can yield positive results.