The Characteristics of A True Leader
What makes a great leader? When we look at people the whole world admires like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson or even throughout history like Winston Churchill or Henry Ford we can see that they are very different people with different personalities; however, they do share some significant qualities that define them as game changers in their respective fields. And this is true for all leaders whether it is a local corner store shop or a global business.
First, leaders are extremely persistent people. They have absolute confidence and belief in themselves and they never let rejections or any obstacles for that matter slow them down. If you research any of their stories you will see that this is a trait they unilaterally all share. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book was declined by countless publishers before she was signed on to one. Walt Disney was called boring and not creative. Just imagine how childhoods of so many generations across the world would have been different if these people just accepted their criticism and gave up. Colonel Sanders didn't found KFC until late in his sixties after several failed business and he started to sell fried chicken door to door in the beginning!
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses
Leaders do tend to have a big ego but this doesn`t stop them from having a really good sense of their strengths and weaknesses. They tend to look at the “big picture” but are very much aware that no one can be an expert in all matters. This is why they surround themselves with experts for guidance on matters and issues they do not know much about. Just think how Steve Jobs had an amazing idea for the IPhone and how it should look and work but he needed entire teams of expert designers and engineers to convert his idea to reality.
All good leaders are honest. From a leadership point of view, being honest is an absolute must. Leaders are those who carry the burden of responsibility for the results of their companies and businesses so it is extremely important for them to always tell exactly what they expect from someone and it is the same when giving feedback or analyzing results. They never tiptoe around unpleasant conversations and always tell it like it is without exception. They are very approachable and open to their employes' problems and will always try to help and find the solution no matter how small or insignificant on a larger scale the problem may appear since they feel that each and every employee’s performance is vital and could affect the company as a whole.
A true leader is able to adapt under any changing circumstances. The world today is a fast paced, ever-changing place; good leaders are well aware of this and they thrive in this environment. They are highly adaptable and are able to handle all challenges that “pop up” in the way of their long term objective. They look at each new challenge and problem as a potential opportunity to be better by solving the issue better than anyone else.
Good leaders always tend to look ahead and look for the next step. They are never satisfied with the “status quo” of things and are constantly trying to improve the world around them. They leave work each day while thinking what can be done even better tomorrow. Take Elon Musk as an example -- today we have PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors all because he tried to make online payments easier, space exploration cheaper, space ships reusable and driving more environmentally friendly and safer.
The drive and tendency to never be satisfied and always improve make leaders develop other leaders. They are always developing and they want people around them to always develop as well. Personal growth of their employees means that they will have leaders in all areas of business who will then develop other leaders and business as a whole will benefit. Just remember how valuable is to have a reference in your CV from any of the leading companies in the world. This testifies to a person’s potential and ability to grow and develop in a challenging environment while always delivering great results.
To summarize, perseverance, belief in yourself, constant development, adjustability, care for others, a holistic and strategic approach to problem solving and inspiration to drive everyone forward are the markings of a true leader, a person who is constantly trying to improve everyone and everything around them!
I think every leader should be able to say, “I was wrong”, “I am sorry” and “Thank you”.
I would add compassionate, sincere, and attentive. Of course the list of character traits is so lengthy we would continue to think of more. You listed some good ones though.
I think good leader is someone that can be trusted. And not give false information to the ones he is leading.
It made sense when you said that a true leader needs adaptability to meet the fast-paced needs of the world. In my opinion, it’s a good idea to pursue a training program if you want to improve your adaptability and therefore your leadership skills. It can be hard to change the way you view challenges and problems without the help of professional development and training methods!