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Looking at Leadership


Photo courtesy of Sonja Andersen

“The qualities of leadership are not always confined to one list”.

If there is a headline which makes me pause and think twice before reading, it is the ones which are similar to: “3 positive habits leaders do every day” or other arbitrary numbers and lists which claim to reveal the secrets of leadership. While not wanting to discredit any research someone has done to promote outstanding human qualities, it’s bewildering to think that such a trait can be spelled out in this way. Yet one quick search of this subject online and that’s precisely what will be found.

Becoming a great leader or influencer is perhaps a goal many wish to achieve. However, it takes more than just a simple proclamation to reach this kind of objective. Also, what qualities define a great leader and more importantly, what determines when someone reaches that point?

Although it is a topic which conjures up countless and differing opinions, defining any high-level figure, or for that matter confining those characteristics to a list – no matter how long it may be – puts limitations on such an important topic. The success of a leader is based on what needs to be accomplished as well as the perceptions and expectations of those who are being led. There are also different levels, purposes, and goals for each situation. Leading a business is far different from leading an army into battle. This one example alone demands varied and contrasting examples. If there is, however, one characteristic which every leader should first demonstrate, it ought to be trust. Without garnering a certain level of the group’s confidence, a leader may soon be found surrounded by his or her own delusions.

Another mark of a great leader in just about any area is the desire to help and inspire others to excel and achieve more than they thought they could do. Being at the center of attention is rarely the end goal. While it’s not easy to step away from the limelight, it certainly is not the main reason one chooses to be in this position. It takes a considerable amount of self-confidence to be the one in charge but true leaders also understand both their strengths and shortcomings which in turn steers them to engage with others in order to reach and accomplish the tasks at hand.

Successful leaders don’t need to brag about their accomplishments because that is not the intended goal. There is no need for derogatory name-calling or berating others for what they’ve done. These actions are instead, distinct indicators of low self-esteem and ultimately a huge distraction toward reaching the goal. Great leaders create opportunities for those around them to shine and thrive. Loyalty is not even a question because it was already earned through integrity and selfless acts to those who were and are being led. Sacrifice is usually the reward and not personal gain. Often most of the incentives of being the leader are seeing the smiles and contented looks on the faces of the group.

The definition of a leadership, truthfully, can have different answers for each person. What are some of the qualities you believe are important for great leaders? Please feel free to leave them in the comments and thanks again to Sonja Andersen for the beautiful picture.

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