There are many facets of leadership in life, ranging from prominent and universal to small-scale and relatively anonymous. From prestigious politicians and world leaders to local charity organisers, leaders can be found in both private and public sector situations. Whether a leader champions a not-for-profit or for-profit cause, many of the same leadership qualities are still required.
Mastering the art of mastering others isn’t easy. Some say that leaders are born with a set of characteristics that make them naturally adept at the process. Others claim that these skills can be learned by anybody with enough dedication and focus. While the truth is probably somewhere in between these two extremes, knowing what qualities make good leaders can help those aspiring to the task better themselves.
Which traits are among the most common ones found in stellar leaders? Below are seven examples of what can be found in virtually every good leader.
A Self-Starting Demeanour
Leaders are in charge for a reason. Perhaps most notably, it is because leaders know how to take charge and lead an effort effectively. The first part of mastering leadership is mastering control over oneself: in this regard, mastering time, efficiency and willpower are critical components of leadership.
Being a self-starter is necessary for most leadership tasks, whether it relates to entrepreneurial endeavours, charitable work or civic service. While many people may prefer the reliability and instruction of traditional workplaces, leaders seek to be that change and provide others with direction. In order to do so, they must be able to make the first move on any project or task.
Relevant Management Skills
Good leaders have experience in the fields where they are present. Increasingly in the business world, individuals are hired into leadership positions without direct experience in the industry they are tasked with organising. While formal education or prior leadership positions may make the individual appealing as a hire, nothing can replace direct management experience in the industry or niche they’re tasked with leading.
This means that the best leaders generally work their way up through one of many career paths relevant to the task itself. For example, a mobile phone CEO may have had experience developing apps for mobile devices prior, or a politician may have served as a lawyer prior to public service.
Management skills specifically are vital to long-term success: click here to read more about their importance.
An Understanding of How to Delegate
Responsible leaders understand their strengths and weaknesses. This naturally means knowing when others are better suited for tasks, as well as when not to overburden oneself with work. This is why an understanding of how and when to delegate responsibilities is common to leaders from all backgrounds.
While it can often feel as if tasks are only completed as desired if you handle them yourself, this is generally not true in settings where leadership is required. Those who can properly match specific tasks with individual talent sets will produce naturally better results for the organisations they represent.
Persuasive Communication Abilities
Natural leaders have another key trait found across all industries and roles: an ability to communicate effectively and persuade individuals who work with them. Leadership isn’t always about barking orders at people and expecting them to do as told, after all. In many situations, inspiring those who work alongside you is imperative. This can be especially true in volunteer situations and not-for-profit endeavours.
The ability to persuade individuals that a particular course of action is ideal is a common attribute found in leaders. Those who can lead by bringing others to their side and way of thinking tend to develop long and successful careers. Those who rely on the power of their position with no ability to persuade do not, however.
An Ability to Articulate Goals and Visions
Thinking about some of the best-known leaders throughout history may seemingly give you a list of unrelated individuals. However, one major common characteristic they all shared was their ability to articulate goals and visions for the future. Leaders who are able to convey accurately how they see their organisations and endeavours evolving over time naturally generate more loyalty, enthusiasm, and respect.
Of course, goals and visions need to be concrete and believable. This particular trait – combined with the ability to communicate persuasively – can be extremely helpful in organising individuals around a set of principles or beliefs. In both the public and private sector, bringing people together around goals and visions is paramount, so this is one characteristic any good leader requires.
Leaders who are worthy of emulation know how to build groups and coalitions in a major way. From mobilising volunteers and employees to unifying disparate groups, this is a task that is all too common to those in leadership positions. However, one big secret as to how so many successful leaders achieve this is that they are naturally adept at networking.
Whether it begins during their school years, while at university or in the professional world itself, great leaders build connections with a variety of individuals. Even if their “value” in a professional sense may not be obvious, leaders find ways to bring people together. In many situations, leaders find themselves needing the services of others – including those not working for them. This ability to network is a prime trait of successful leaders in all walks of life.
A Desire to Continue Learning
We’ve all met people who think they have the world figured out; that there is nothing left for them to learn. While some of the world’s most intelligent people may have mastered their crafts, those who are successful generally understand there is always room for personal and professional growth.
Natural leaders value the ability to learn about new topics and master new skill-sets. Whether it be enrolling at university for another degree or taking online classes to master a new leadership skill, there is always something new to learn in the eyes of good leaders. Nobody can ever truly have all the answers, and successful leaders know that there’s always something new to learn from someone else.
While some leadership positions require specific skills and characteristics, most successful leaders possess these seven traits. Most of these can be easily acquired with perseverance: those seeking to become one of many new, emerging leaders should begin by honing their abilities in these areas.