How do you define great leadership? I believe a great leader is someone who has a vision, remains focused on achieving that vision and inspires others to follow him or her. There are many good leaders, but few great leaders. What’s the difference? What are the qualities of someone who displays the kind of leadership qualities that differentiate him or her from the crowd?
1. Integrity and honesty
You can achieve ‘success’ in anything you undertake, but if it’s done without integrity, in my books, it doesn’t count. Without integrity and honesty, you haven’t achieved anything. Being ethical, and having integrity in all you do is the cornerstone of great leadership.
2. Passion and Commitment
It’s difficult to achieve anything if you’re not passionate and committed towards achieving your goal. And those you seek to inspire need to feel, see and hear that passion and drive. Reaching the summit can be hard work, and if you’re not in it fully, how can you expect those you lead to be?
As a leader, you lead. And others follow. A critical quality is deep confidence in who you are and what you are doing, and how you intend to achieve it. And that confidence must be built on a platform of trusting yourself. When you have faith in yourself and your abilities, so will the people who look to you to be the decision-maker.
It’s not easy to persuade, to influence and to inspire others. To inspire others, you must be clear on your Why. Why are we doing this? Why is it important? And you must also be certain of where you want to go and how you want to get there. And you must always remember that the people you are leading will want to understand what’s in it for them. Why do they want to be part of your dream?
One of the hallmarks of great leadership — and really of any person — is their willingness to be accountable. As the leader, you need to be willing to shoulder the a portion the blame when things goes awry. You’re in charge — you’re the leader. And you must also ensure everyone who reports to you and is part of your team, is accountable. Without clear direction on what’s expected, it’s difficult for anyone reporting to you, to achieve their own success and greatness.
Our world changes in a heartbeat and a great leader must embody innovation and creativity. It’s not enough to do what’s worked in the past; you must always be evolving and thinking outside of the box to ensure you and your vision stay relevant.
7. Excellent communication skills
Clearly articulating your vision and your strategy to your team is critical to inspiring them to achieve your goals. If you are unable to clearly express your vision, how can you expect anyone to follow you?
Without empathy, great leadership is not possible. If you want people to follow you, you must have a connection with them. And if you are low on the empathy scale, that will be obvious to your team and you are unlikely to inspire loyalty, without which it will be challenging to achieve success.
As I said earlier, there are good leaders but few great leaders. Some of the qualities I’ve talked about can be developed or improved upon through coaching and personal development, but if you lack them, becoming a great leader will be challenging. With these qualities, which can be honed, you will stand out as someone people can look up to, respect and follow. In other words, a great leader.