With all the insanity around the recent presidential election, some pro-Trump while others are pro-Biden, one question reigned supreme, “What makes a great leader?”
Before we can even begin to speak about what makes a great leader, we must determine what a leader is. According to the dictionary, a leader is “one who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” So, a leader is a position that has some power and authority that one can hold; however, like Uncle Ben once told Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
How do we measure great leadership? Leadership isn’t about filling a role or position, but rather, how others respond to them and the impact they make in the lives of others, organizations, companies, countries, etc. they lead, and we must keep this in mind when discussing what constitutes a great leader.
Two people might hold a position of leadership and one of them is a mediocre leader at best whereas the other is a great leader. We all know that the differences between a mediocre leader and a great one often means the success or failure of whatever it is they are leading. Does the real question become what are the qualities that one must have to be considered a great leader?
Great leaders have a clear vision of where they are going, what challenges might arise along the way, goals and milestones, and a strategy on how to get there. They understand that the path to the vision may not be the exact way they anticipate so they are open to changing course if need be.
Being able to persuade and inspire others to believe in your vision, a task you assign them, or even your protocol of having something executed a certain way is essential for a great leader. You aren’t manipulating them, that’s very different. Influence takes the ability to inspire, motivate, and educate someone and get them excited about something.
Having the ability to be aware of and in control of your emotions and how you express them, knowing how to effectively handle interpersonal relationships in a fair and empathetic way is a key trait to a great leader.
If a leader isn’t passionate about their goal, vision, mission, etc. how can they expect to excite, inspire, motivate, and get others to be? A great leader must exude not just exhibit passion.
Remember that adage that there is no I in team? That’s because a great leader must realize they may be in a position of authority, but they are also part of a team. Therefore, a great leader is open to feedback, suggestions, and even criticism. In fact, a great leader hungers for feedback so they can constantly improve and
Great leaders are honest and are guided by a strong moral compass. If one expects to lead others, they must first gain their respect and trust which is, in part, gained by standing in integrity. If you think of the position of President, whether in a company or of a country, you want to know that this person is of strong moral character because you’re more likely to establish trust in their decision-making process and their ability to execute it in a way that benefits the greater whole.
Effective listening is the secret sauce to being a great leader. The concept of “my way or the highway” is not the mindset of a great leader. Instead, having the ability to receive feedback, criticism, and actively listen to what is being said helps you take the best action necessary. It also helps you improve systems or disband from ones that no longer serve the highest good and intention of those involved. Additionally, it shows that you are not operating from a self-serving nature and feeling like you’re the only one that knows what’s best, but can differ to the input of others, feedback, and so forth to make a well-rounded decision.
A great leader will explain why a task, function, or course of action must be taken and how it integrates with the greater picture, mission, or vision. You will never hear them say, “Because I said so,” or “Just do it.” They won’t need to be asked and this gains further favor with those they lead and potentially the community as a whole.
Great leaders are confident in their decisions. If those you wish to lead sense hesitation or doubt, they will not follow you. If you handle problems that arise with confidence and positivity, they will follow your direction and guidance.
Great communication is not just what you say but how you say it. A great leader knows how to communicate effectively to whatever his/her audience is. They communicate strategy and even the most complex of subjects in a clear way that can be understood and followed.
Taking responsibility for the decisions and mistakes they’ve made. A great leader not only holds themselves accountable but those he/she leads accountable as well.
Creativity and innovation are staples in the qualities that great leaders hold. Great leaders think outside the box, they go against the grain and are constantly creating and bringing to life their thoughts and ideas.
Being able to not allow your leadership role to feed your Ego. Great leaders feed their selflessness and they gain the respect of those that they lead. If a great leader were to feed their Ego, they would become a Tyrant. A great leader understands that the role of leadership isn’t to be taken for granted and doesn’t make them better than another.
We all make decisions, but a great leader knows what decision to make and execute that decision. They take into consideration the course of action to take, the impact it will have on others, and a great deal more than that. Different decisions may take a longer time to deliberate and formulate the correct decision.
As you can tell, there is a whole lot that comprises a great leader. These are just a few qualities that every great leader should possess at their core but there are so many more qualities that also going into what makes a great leader.