It can be hard to develop proper leadership traits if you’re not naturally outgoing and outspoken, but it can be done. In order for a business to run smoothly or a group to work together, someone must be in the leadership role and have the right qualities. Just labeling yourself the “leader” isn’t going to fly—you need the skills to prove it.
Below are five traits that make a great leader. If you have some of them already, you’re doing great! Keep working and shoot for all five. If you have none, this will be a great starting point for you to become the leader you desire.
Trait #1: Confidence
Confidence is the number one trait for leadership as an entrepreneur. However, there must be a proper balance of humility and belief in your talents. The excess of confidence is arrogance, which is the demonstration of pride. No one likes to be commanded around by an overly prideful tyrant, right?
So how do you figure out if you’re a confident leader or an arrogant one? A simple test is to ask yourself: do people respect you and seek out your opinion or do they avoid you as much as possible? Prideful people turn others off. Confident people attract others to their strength.
Trait #2: Vision
Like the old saying goes: if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? In the film Patton, the most impactful scene is Patton standing on a muddy stump, directing tank traffic. As a leader, he had a clear vision of what he wanted to accomplish, yet he was willing to get off his white stallion and take the place of a Military Police officer directing traffic to keep his vision moving forward toward his goal. He didn’t just sit in a warm tent, yelling orders to those beneath him. He put in the work himself because he was following his vision.
Trait #3: Respect
Seeking the input of others, weighing their thoughts, and attempting to understand their logic goes a very long way in developing a loyal team. By being respectful of everyone’s ideas and thoughts, productivity increases exponentially because of emotional buy-in. And you never know where the next bright idea might come from. Yes, you may think the low-level secretary couldn’t possibly have a tangible plan for defeating the spam problem, but because he struggles with it every day, he may well have done a TON of research into it and actually does know the best way to tackle the issue. So hear him out.
Trait #4: Delegation
A strong leader with a clear vision will surround themselves with talented people that complement their skills. They trust those people and give them both responsibility and authority to act. The largest roadblock to continued growth is this inability to trust others or delegate responsibilities. As a productive leader, your time is so valuable that anytime you can delegate to your highly skilled and dedicated team, your effectiveness increases.
Trait #5: Avoid Tweaking
It is highly demoralizing to have a leader fiddle with a plan, making last minute changes once the plan has been agreed upon. We aren’t talking about a fluid situation like a fire, or a battle. We’re talking about more static things, like an event. Insecure leaders come back and shift things around. This creates disorder, loads of additional stress, and a lack of respect for those who contributed to the plan. Learning to accept the ideas and contributions of others, even if it is not exactly how you might have done it, goes a long way. How many people do you know who have changed jobs, not for salary issues, but rather because they feel unvalued?
A practical list of great leaders who have demonstrated these five qualities are Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, and numerous military leaders. Go forth, read up on these leaders. Learn from their struggles and successes.