Basic Leadership Qualities

Many people are born leaders; it appears to be an innate quality born out of many different circumstances. Look at the difference in the backgrounds of Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy. Lincoln had a humble upbringing filled with grief and he was mostly self-educated, Kennedy on the other hand was born into privilege and wealth and well educated. They were both firm in their beliefs and were respected for those qualities in leadership.

Leaders come from many backgrounds and to become a leader you must set an example and be passionate about your subject and in turn, others will follow. Whether you want to be a president or a good father, the principles are the same – you have to cultivate the respect of your followers.

Being strong means being firm in what you believe, but you must take the time to listen to others and respects their opinions. Being strong can often be taken for rudeness, arrogance and stubbornness especially if you don’t take the time to respect others or listen, so great care must be taken not to alienate others, although it will happen.

Be kind to people, and this follows on from being strong. This situation often happens when you are a parent, you have to say “no” to a child often and you say it because you have the child’s best interests at heart. You are really being kind and caring and it is a skill that should cultivate respect, it’s always a good idea to explain why you are saying “no”. Being kind is not a weakness; it is actually a strength when handled correctly.

As a leader, people will follow you and if there are issues you must tackle them. It’s up to you to stand up and lead, it’s not a job that can always be delegated to someone else, you don’t want to appear to be weak or timid.

There may be occasions where a leader must admit he is wrong. A true leader will stand up and say he has made a mistake, and most people will respect him for that admission and this takes humility and a lot of strength.

Arrogance is a horrible trait, and nobody will follow someone who goes around with the opinion that “I am better than you” and “what I say is always right”.  It is not the quality of a good leader. Being proud is a different matter, although taken to extremes it can be confused with arrogance. Yes, you should be proud of your achievements, but you should always encourage others and take the time to listen and help others.

The best leaders will use humor skillfully. Humor can be used to defuse situations and is a very likeable trait. Acting silly (like Steve Carell’s character in The Office) is fine on a TV show, but in real life he would never keep his job or his staff – he just doesn’t command respect.

Honesty is always the best policy and of course, we have to leave the politicians behind in this aspect. Nobody trusts a politician, but as a leader in everyday life and business, you want people to trust you and they want to know that they can believe everything you say.  Being labeled as a liar is one of the most career-destroying situations, John Edwards is a prime example.

Be punctual and organized. People who are consistently late to meetings do not gain respect, and those who are constantly forgetting important things or fumbling around will never become good leaders. These two traits can often reflect the state of a person’s mind. If someone is always late, what encouragement is that for you being on time?

Hold your head up but not to high that you lose sight of people. Smile, be kind and tell the truth, look them in the eye and people will follow and constantly work on your leadership skills.

Can you think of other leadership qualities that we have omitted?  Please drop us a line.


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