Let me start by saying “everyone is a leader”. There has been many definition of the word leader; some say that leaders are born while others say that leaders are made. I totally agree with both schools of thought, I know for certain that leaders are born but I also know that even such a leader has to improve his abilities day by day in order to become a better leader.If you don’t consider yourself a good leader now and you really want to be better, all you need do is identify the qualities that make a good leader and begin to develop those qualities in yourself. I have identified what I believe are the greatest qualities of the best leaders.
Influence: “The true measure of leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less” – John Maxwell. Every true leader is a person of influence. In fact, if you don’t have an influence on somebody, that person cannot follow you. Influence may be defined as power or authority arising from elevated station, reputation, wealth or character. You can gain influence by any of these means but true influence is a product of character. You might have employees on your payroll, they will definitely be loyal to you as far as they are under your employment but I’m afraid it won’t be long before they’re tired of you and your organization. If you want to become a great leader, spend more time working on your character. Be that person that everybody wants to be like and likes to be around, and people will automatically follow you.
Passion: Firstly, there is a vision and it takes a leader to have a vision and remain true to it. One of the major differences between a leader and a manager is vision; leaders have the ability to project into the future. It’s not enough to have a vision, you must be able to see that vision become a reality and that’s where passion comes in. Thomas Edison will not have succeeded without passion, Henry Ford wouldn’t have made it either because even when no one believed in them and things were not going their way, passion sustained them. Another important lesson I’ve learnt about passion is that when you put together a team to help your vision, communicating the vision to them is usually not an easy task, you can tell them by mouth or write it on paper but they will never really understand and run with the vision or else you are full of passion. People automatically follow you when they see you working hard towards your goal no matter the situation. Passion makes people believe in your dreams.
Integrity: As a leader, it’s good to be predictable, the reason being that when you are not around to take decisions, your followers should be able to do exactly what you would have done if you were there. A leader should also be very honest and of good character. A lot of so called leaders are so insecure that they can’t reveal a lot of things to their followers and this is the reason why a lot of businesses die once the founder is dead. Don’t confuse the people you are leading, they are a direct reflection of who you are, so if you can’t trust your employees, it means you can’t be trusted yourself.
Communication: Everyone communicates, few connect and that’s the reality of life. Whether you are leading a small group or you are the CEO of a multinational, you must communicate regularly. Communication is not only represented by our speech, in fact, most of our communication everyday is non-verbal. Body language, eye and face contact, reaction to situations are all a part of communication. Imagine you are in the army, who would you rather follow, a leader that will stay back and push all his subordinates to front of the line or one who will be in front at all times protecting his comrades no matter the cost? One shows cowardice, the other courage but the truth is that the two are communicating, one is saying you are not worth much but the other is saying you are in safe hands and I will protect you, both of them communicated but only one of them truly made a connection. The rule here is “leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand”. People are willing to give everything for a leader with whom they have made a connection just the way you are willing to sacrifice more for your spouse than any other person.
Curiosity: Readers are leaders and leaders are readers, this fact cannot be overemphasized. If you are going to be an effective leader, you must read regularly because knowledge is power. It’s the height of what you know that will differentiate you from the pack. “The more you know is the more you grow”. In fact If you don’t read, you will soon become brain dead. I’ve not met anyone who naturally loves to read, it’s a habit you have to develop. I read because I have to read, whenever I hear a new word, I check the dictionary for the meaning because by doing that, I have gone a level higher. Know something about everything and everything about something.
Do yourself this little favor, rate yourself honestly based on these qualities mentioned and endeavor to get better at them, you can’t be too good at them. Do me a favor also, for the sake of our readers, leave a comment below, write a short note on any quality of a leader you think I have ignored.