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10 Characteristics of the Best Leaders

Seems there are many descriptions of leaders in the world these days. Some of these groupings are accurate and many are based upon the appearance of leadership rather than the real leaders found at any level of an organization.

Several years ago I wrote an article entitled “Shared Leadership” which can still be found on the internet today in several publications. It discussed the need for everyone to take responsibility for a leadership role and how much better the organization would become.

Most people think leadership is all about Power, dishing out Punishment, handing out Rewards, the Title or Position held by someone or even the Expertise a person has within their organization. Well, these are all fine and dandy, however, several key truths are missing. Leadership is not about assumptions or guess work, there are specific traits or characteristics found in the real leaders of today.

Here are Ten Specific Characteristics Found in True Leaders

  • Supporting their Subordinates
    One of the keys to improving performance is to be thinking of others. Only the selfish and self centered people in the world are only interested in what they can get. Support others and watch them “want” to help you.
  • Intolerance of Poor Quality or Shoddy Work
    Poor quality and incomplete work is due mostly to bad habits being formed within the ranks. Some times these traits begin at home and migrate to the work environment. No one should allow poor quality work to leave – especially when it involves customers. High performance cultures are created by leaders and others who want to be the best. Create excellent work habits and the culture will follow your lead.
  • Lack of Political Orientation or Focus
    When coaching leaders and managers, my pet peeve is for someone to be doing things due to political reasons. Your goal should always be focused upon excellent performance – if you want to stay employed for the long term. It seems everyone who plays the political game will eventually end up on the wrong side of a power play AND LOSE! Be politically aware, yet, always focus your time and energy on getting the right things done.
  • Competence is Most Important
    Duh, this is a no-brainer in my world. You need to be on a continuous personal improvement plan to be the most competent person you can become. The reality is when you pick a topic to learn, you can become an expert or authority on the topic within a two to three year time period. This increases your value as a person and a leader.
  • Ability to Admit personal errors and/or failures
    Only people with high self-esteem can admit to failure or errors of judgment without fearing for their jobs or their future. The fact is never try to hide a mistake or place it upon others. You did it – own up to your mistakes and grow from the experience. I personally believe the best leaders have experienced adversity during their lifetimes and learned how to develop their personal character. Character is the link to being respected by everyone around you.
  • Standing Firm on their Values and Beliefs
    The key here is consistency regarding what you stand for or against. Changing your position with the wind currents is a form of political correctness and can lead to selective ethics which are of little value to you in the long run. When you stand for something, be consistent so others recognize and understand your position. However, one word of caution here. Be open to discussing differences of opinions with others thereby engaging them in meaningful dialogue rather than a one way (my way) speech.
  • Honest Candor and Open Communication Style
    The poor leaders tend to hide behind silence or only one way communication without any dialogue for understanding. The best leaders take the time to dialogue with anyone who wants to engage them on a topic or issue. Open and honest communication is a necessary ingredient for success in today’s world of totally open social media channels. Lead rather than follow in clear and open communication.
  • High Ethical and Integrity Demanded
    Look there is no wiggle room here. It is the bedrock of real leadership. Leaders who display these traits seldom have any trust or credibility issues or concerns. They are the role models for the world to see and witness. Beware of the person who tells you “everyone is doing it” or “it won’t make any difference if you do it just once!” Beware of the human snakes who actually want you to fail – just like they have.
  • Ability to Remain Calm during Chaos and Crises
    True leaders remain calm while others are running around like “Chicken Little” shouting out how the world is crashing around everyone. Then the leader steps in and makes the right decisions to counter the chaos or crisis issues. The fact of the matter is your brain is not designed to make great decisions during times of absolute stress and chaos. When you are stressed, you only get information from your dominant side of your brain – rather than a whole brain approach. When you remain calm during a crisis, you are able to assess your whole brain and utilize greater creativity to solve any problem you are facing. Be unique when others are in panic mode around you and watch how easy it is for you to think about possible solutions.
  • Sense of Fair Play and Sharing of Success
    This one is really big for most entrepreneurs who are successful. Fair play is huge for them and they like to work with others who possess this trait. The fact here is anyone can be tuned into playing fair and sharing success with others (I’m not talking about giving anything away here). You hear this from the greatest coaches in any sport. They share the credit for every win and usually take on the responsibility for losses – even through they did not play one minute of the game. Look, so called leaders who take all the credit for every decision or strategic move made by their organization is lacking an important trait. Sharing the success with the people who actually got the results. So unless you are a one person company – share the success and play fair with others, including and especially with your customers.

The good news is anyone can be a Great Leader. The key is to learn how to develop your inborn traits for success and achievement. And, then utilize the 10 Characteristics listed above in your everyday life. Performance trumps politics – so be true to yourself first to learn the traits and then ability what you learn to those around you.

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Voss Graham

CEO / Sr Business Advisor at InnerActive Consulting Group Inc
Voss Graham is an Organizational Architect with 30+ years of experience designing sustainable business growth for organizations of all sizes. Creating the Strategic Focus with the Executive Leadership Teams, he uses Systems & Process to ensure the Drivers for Business Growth are Executed at the Highest Levels. Voss is available as a Speaker for your conferences or company meetings - contact him at 901-757-4434 or use the LinkedIn or Facebook direct messages.

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Voss Graham

Voss Graham is an Organizational Architect with 30+ years of experience designing sustainable business growth for organizations of all sizes. Creating the Strategic Focus with the Executive Leadership Teams, he uses Systems & Process to ensure the Drivers for Business Growth are Executed at the Highest Levels. Voss is available as a Speaker for your conferences or company meetings - contact him at 901-757-4434 or use the LinkedIn or Facebook direct messages.