From the dawn of man, there have been leaders. Even during prehistoric time, leaders walked the earth. Unlike the dinosaurs though, leaders did not become extinct.
Since the first leaders laid down the stone hammer and began to tell their tribe members what to do, there were high expectations—and with good reason.
Most people might agree that leadership is the ability to induce people to do, willingly and well, what someone wants and expects them to do. Certain traits seem to be inherent in most effective leaders.
People need to understand what is considered important and necessary. They need to know that the leader can be counted on to respond consistently to situations.
The following ones, not listed in any specific order, can bring about positive results.
1. Integrity: Integrity is certainly a trait that effective leaders must possess. Integrity is more than being trustworthy and honest. A person with integrity is someone ethical with high morals and principles.
2. Trustworthy: Trust is at the core of respecting any leader. Effective leaders are honest in their dealings with people. They can be counted on to follow through on their commitments every time. Their word is their bond. People work harder for a leader they trust, respect, and believe in.
3. Professional character: Effective leaders do not just talk about professional character – they demonstrate it. They treat people with courtesy and dignity. They realize a person’s worth is not related to position. Effective leaders take time to care about people.
4. Fairness: People expect fairness…fair rules, fair tasks, fair competition, fair discipline, etc. Only the leader who is fair can hope to obtain willing responses from their associates.
5. Tactful: Some might call this the “sugar coated” characteristic of effective leadership. It is a most important characteristic because tact helps keep people’s minds free of grievances and resentment. It is almost impossible to obtain willingly positive responses from people if their leaders “rub them the wrong way” unnecessarily.
6. Persistence: A leader cannot quit when the going gets tough. Leaders must stay with problems and situations because, to evoke the desired response from people, they must give their people the “lift” that comes from accomplishment. Persistence is important when it comes to evoking a response.
7. Consistency: Consistency makes a leader easier to follow. Good leaders have a proper balance of mental, emotional, and physical characteristics so people can adapt to their leadership style. People need to understand what is considered important and necessary. They need to know that the leader can be counted on to respond consistently to situations. If not consistent, the leader causes fear, uncertainty, and lack of trust.
8. Show Interest: Maybe even more simple than fairness but just as powerful. This is the characteristic that effective leaders use to induce people to “warm” to them. Effective leaders have a sincere interest in people…. interest in their problems, progress, hopes, ideas, likes and dislikes. Effective leaders know that people tend to be drawn to, and respond to, those who demonstrate an interest in them. Only the leader who demonstrates a sincere interest in people can expect to evoke willing responses from their team.
9. Lead by Example: Leaders need to set the example for others to model. People watch everything about their leaders. Understanding this is important for leaders; their every move, decision, and deed is observed. Lead by example and set the standard for others to emulate.
10. Communication: No matter how business savvy or intelligent a leader is, if they cannot communicate effectively, they will not be able to lead successfully. Communication skills enable a leader to connect with others to build and maintain healthy relationships.
11. Positive: A positive mental attitude (PMA) sets the stage for many other attributes. A PMA is contagious. Coming in every day with a positive attitude, a “can do” spirit gives people confidence in the leader, the organization and work being performed. It catches “fire” and spreads throughout the organization. Amazing things happen because of PMA. PMA does not have to be RAH-RAH and GUNG-HO. Effective leaders smile often, greet people positively, always “taking the high road.”
12. Gratitude: Effective leaders demonstrate loudly and often to those who give of themselves to support the group’s success. They reward by deed by various means appropriately and clearly say, “Well done.” Without it, people will not feel valued and effective leadership will wither.
13. Accountable: Effective leaders take full accountability when their team fails regardless of where mistakes were made or whose performance was lacking. They take full ownership of their purview and support for their colleagues, knowing the team can only be as successful as its poorest performer. They give others full credit for the team’s success and to ensure those performers are fully and openly recognized for their contributions.
14. Desire: The secret to success is not beauty, talent, skills, intelligence, or education. The secret is desire. A desire to succeed and win. Desire is more powerful than any ingredient as it drives all others. Leaders need to overcome the natural fear of the known and unknown dangers to successfully complete the mission. To have “courage” they need to have confidence that is gained by being fully prepared. Being fully prepared comes from desire, commitment, and hard work, most often when no one else is around. This allows a leader to overcome all resistance, regardless of its direction and magnitude, to be successful.
Certainly, there are other traits, but effective leaders must possess the above traits or work to acquire them because many can be learned. Their skillful and successful use, however, is a matter of three little words: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.