What Are The Qualities Of A Great Leader?

Mark J. writes...

"I'm struggling to get promoted and attain a management position in my company. I would love the opportunity to be a leader, but I am unsure of the qualities I am missing and need to learn in order to excel in that kind of position. Kudos on your website!"

Replies (10)
  • Control yourself.

    Every great leader in history has had to become a master of self-discipline and willpower in order to stay focused on the big picture. If you don't have a goal or the drive to achieve it, you can't lead others to attain theirs.

    • Follow through in everything you do. As challenging as it may be, you need to be disciplined enough to be where you need to be, when you need to be there, whether you want to or not. By being strong in your resolve and resisting temptation to give up, you are setting an example for others to live up to.

    • Choose your emotional response to a situation carefully. Sometimes you'll need to practice the art of silencing your inner thoughts when they're not appropriate in order to set a positive example.
    • Know your people.

      You can't truly lead a group of people unless you truly understand their hopes, dreams, struggles, pains, and goals. All the good intentions in the world mean nothing unless you have a true sense of the people you're working with.

      • Talk to your team and get to know them. Getting to know each other on a personal level will strengthen the bond between you. They'll want to do better for you because you're more than just a "boss."
         
      • Be their leader, first, and their friend second. You're their leader and that means that you have to make difficult decisions from time to time. These decisions cannot be affected by personal relationships.

      Be a good delegator.

      Identifying an ideal team is a success in itself, because you know that the persons you've selected are capable of excelling in the tasks assigned. Now, it’s up to you to assign tasks effectively. Becoming a good delegator will involve the following activities:

      • Studying the strengths of each team player so you can effectively match tasks with the skill set.
         
      • Analyzing the potential success capabilities of your team so you can make a wise choice when assigning responsibilities.
      • Praise highly and criticize constructively.

        The way you praise and criticize others can make all the difference in being able to lead effectively!

        • Make sure you publicly praise the people who do excellent work for you. You'll give the person a sense of accomplishment and the drive to do even better.
           
        • When someone does something wrong, offer constructive criticism and do it privately. Suggest solutions on how they can improve and take the time to answer any questions. They'll accept your input more willingly if they know it's done to help and not to harm.
        • Make the hard call.

          There are times when you have to bite the bullet and make some unpleasant decisions. Firing, demoting, and holding people accountable for their actions can be very hard at times. As a leader, it's your responsibility to handle these matters.

          • Be a good negotiator.

            Once you've been able to gain the trust of your team members, your next step is to master your negotiation skills. As a leader, that not only means negotiating with the team so the best results are achieved, but also succeeding at external negotiations in the best interest of your unit.

            • Negotiate fairly so others continue to trust you.
               
            • Negotiate smartly for the well-being of your unit.
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