What makes a great leader? Is it gender, race, nationality or social background? Certainly not, in this article 6 men are featured, in the next, I will share insights about 6 women. (Indira Gandhi, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Taylor Swift, Oprah Winfrey and Coco Chanel)
Leaders are defined by the way they take action based on certain traits? If we look at the leaders of various companies and organizations through history, we can begin to see a pattern emerge. Great leaders all have an ability to motivate people, whether it is by negative or positive means. They also tend to be great communicators and can easily dictate what they want done, and who they want to do it. There are some exceptions, but, in general, great leaders possess the following characteristics:
1. Great Communications skills
Great leaders know how to motivate people to get things done. This is due to their keen ability to communicate with people in all levels of their organization, from the custodial staff to the Vice-President or CFO. Communication starts with an understanding of other’s perspectives and knowing how to address their concerns, while communicating what you want them to do.
2. Great Listening Skills
While you might think that listening skills are the same as communications, actually listening skills have more to do with apathy and interpersonal skills than with communication. In good listening, a leader must be able to simply listen to the problems others face in doing their jobs, and then brainstorm ways to empower them to accomplish the tasks they need to do to be successful.
3. Great Negotiating Skills
Bill Gates is a great leader because he is a great negotiator, not necessarily an innovator or inventor. When he made the first deals with IBM, at a young age and fairly inexperienced, he had to listen to their viewpoint and internalize it, in order to know what deal he should offer them. This first major deal he negotiated shaped the rest of his career. Only when you have the skills necessary to compromise and understand things from another perspective, will you be a successful leader. Empowering others is negotiating, negotiating how much power you give, how much you keep and balancing it.
4. Great Ability to Move Forward
Even in the face of setbacks, a great leader must move onward without looking back. They should not place blame on certain people or situations, but rather try to analyze why something did not succeed and push forward with a new determination to learn from the mistake. Leaders who cannot keep moving forward will not make it in the tough world of business. Martin Luther King Jr certainly set a sterling example of overcoming odds and moving forward.
5. Strong Financial Knowledge
A great leader does not have to be a math wiz, but they must be able to keep careful records of their financial proceedings and plan their economic strategies and goals based on the vision they have for the company’s growth and expansion. They need to learn and apply basic financial truths, as highlighted by Warren Buffett. These may sound like “common sense” but as we ALL know, common sense is NOT so common!
6. Great Emotionally Stability
Some great leaders get to where they are due to their emotional stability. They have an ability to stay grounded in their goals and ideas while keeping their emotions in check. This is easier for some people than others. But it is important that a leader keep their head when a crisis ensues or when situations call for a level head and rational thinking. Many successful leaders were emotional wrecks and as stable as nitro-glycerin on a roller coaster, so exceptions do exist, but emotional stability certainly makes the ride a whole lot more enjoyable for all. YES! Warren Buffett’s quote just fit snug here again, but wouldn’t we all agree that he is definitely a successful leader?
7. Great Resourcefulness
Great leaders have an endless list of resources they can depend on when they need backup and support. Online companies today depend upon technology security firms to have a disaster plan in place. They do backups of essential data so that the information will be there when they need it. Business managers often keep a list of people they can outsource work with, in case the demand is greater than they can supply from within the company. A great leader knows how to tap into the resources they need, when they need them, to keep things running as they should.
There are many other qualities a great leader should possess, but these 7 characteristics are present in many great leaders. The ability to listen and communicate, to understand the needs of others within your organization, as well as clients, the vision and understanding of your financials, and a connection to key resources will set you on the path to success as a great leader. Practicing these key traits on a daily basis will keep you focused on your goals and keep you and your company moving forward into a future yet unknown, and a path yet untraveled.