What Characteristics Make a Great Leader?
Anyone who is trying to hone their leadership skills have grabbed numerous articles and read all the advice on what it takes to be a great leader. You have probably also read books about renowned leaders, like Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, Warren Buffet, Dalai Lama, and many more to better understand what they did to make their mark and what skills got them to their stature. If only they all carried the same traits, you would have a clear roadmap on what skills are more critical and therefore just focus on those specific proficiencies. Just tell me what to do and I will do it. If it was only that easy!
As you gather all your data, you will come to realize there is anywhere between 1 and 50 (maybe more) characteristics that you can identify makes strong leaders. I have identified personality characteristics anywhere from positive attitude to stoicism and everything in between. If you ask 10 other people who also study this subject, I’m confident you will find a whole host more. How do you know which characteristics to focus on when you are trying to better yourself? How do you know which traits will help you become more of an influencer within your organization?
You may have heard the “Experts” debate whether you have to be born with true leadership skills or you can refine your skills to become a strong leader. In my opinion, it’s both. You are born with a certain demeanor. As you grow, those core characteristics continue to deepen and develop. You are who you are. Obviously, there are other influences, but who you are down to your core, is who you will always be. You can probably argue that if you have integrity, authenticity, and a positive attitude you have probably always had those innate traits. You can always sharpen these traits throughout your life by paying very close attention to your core values and finding better ways to express these qualities. Certain training can help, as well.
I know you have many wonderful attributes. My suggestion would be to identify your top 3 to 5 BEST characteristics. What do you like most about yourself? Do you like the fact you can make tough decisions, you are fair, you have high integrity, your confidence, your transparent, or your insightfulness? What made Warren Buffet successful, will probably not make you successful. You are two different people with different personalities. Your likes are different than his. Whatever those 3 to 5 traits you identify, OWN them. Be known for something! You are not going to be good at everything so stop trying. If you focus on what you are already good at naturally, you will take those characteristics and bring them to a whole new level. Natural is the key word!