The Art Of Leadership

How to tell if you have a true leader in your midst.

Great leaders make things happen. Great leaders inspire people to follow their mission. Great leaders don’t force people to do things, they inspire them to do things, the right things. They make their followers want to do what needs to be done to accomplish their common goals. Great leaders don’t create “followers”, they develop “Apostles”, kind of mini leaders who exponentially push the common vision to their followers, creating more “Apostles” who then move the mission even further to the point where everyone in the organization has their eyes on the prize. 

Here are some characteristics to look for in great leaders:

Great leaders never make things more complicated. They have a clear and inspiring vision for the future. They simplify and then identify the key ideas that make up their vision. They know how to relate that vision in ways that everyone can understand. In the end they eliminate confusion.

Great leaders have integrity. This is vitally important. When you think about the power that a true leader emanates, it is critical that she have integrity. The fact is that when an acknowledged leader speaks, her voice is at least five times louder than anyone else’s. What she says is carried and repeated throughout the organization.

Leaders empower and delegate to their team members. They don’t waste time trying to handle everything themselves. They allow their team members to learn and to grow to the point of letting them have the comfort of trial and error and learning from their mistakes.

Great leaders are empathetic. They understand and truly care about the needs and feelings of their team members, always showing compassion and support. They are always nurturing their team members, encouraging them to find ways to be better at what they do. Knowing that in the end the better and stronger their team members are the better the team will be and the more it will accomplish.

Effective leaders are confident. They lead their team with a confidence that is infectious and contagious. They are confident enough to hire strong people to work for them. They are not threatened by smart and strong people. They are smart and confident enough to know that the better the team members the better the team.

True leaders are accountable. They know that the buck really does stop with them. They shoulder the responsibility when something goes wrong, and they are always willing to share the success when things go right.

Leaders are generous and collaborative. They have a “we are all in this together” attitude with everything they do. They use words like “us” and “ours” and “we” but never words like “me” and “I”. Even if they are the leader they are also a teammate.

True leaders are adaptable. Now matter what is going on they will always find a way to adapt. You’ll never here a leader talk about things like “policy” and “we’ve always done it that way before” when someone comes up with a new idea that is counter to what they had done before. They have an open mind and are willing to try new things.

A great leader has boundless energy and enthusiasm. He is always ready to look into something new. She is constantly curious.

Great leaders are great at team building. They are always searching, seeking the best people to add to their team. They are willing to invest in the future by finding and hiring the right person, a person who will in the end make the team stronger. They are willing to invest in a person even if they don’t have an immediate need for that person at that time.

Leaders are decisive. They can make timely decisions on the spot when they need to. They are prepared mentally to handle tough situations and make the right decisions at the right time. It’s not because they are rash or careless, but rather because they are always prepared. Their focus is always on the end goal. They have an innate understanding of their mission and a strong sense of what will work and what will not, and they can make the right choice.

 Honest leaders have humility. They are not arrogant. They are approachable at all times. They even acknowledge their limitations and are always open to learning from others. In fact, they are always looking for learning opportunities no matter where they come from

To spot a true leader, look for these characteristics in their actions and behaviors. Consider how they interact with their team, handle challenges, communicate their vision, and promote growth and development among their followers. Keep in mind that leadership is not about holding a particular position or title but about the impact and influence an individual has on others. Do you see these characteristics in yourself? Are you a true leader? Think about it. It’s only common sense.