Top 10 Traits of a Damn Fine Leader
If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word ‘leader’, people like Obama, Billy Graham, and Tony Robbins come to mind. People who are charismatic, outgoing, and love to be the center of attention. I’ve always been in awe of people like that and assumed you had to be just like that to be a great leader. While I may possess a healthy chunk of charisma, I’m in no way outgoing and I am definitely not a fan of being the center of attention. I’m much happier to be sitting on the outskirts observing. As a result, I’ve never wanted to be in a leadership role of any kind.
The funny thing is, as I’ve changed and grown over the last couple of years and arrived at a clear vision for my life and future, all signs are now pointing to the fact that I will wind up being a leader if I continue down this path. As much as I’ve balked at the idea, I finally accepted it and decided to do a bit of research on the subject. The more I’ve read and researched, the more I’ve seen that there are oodles of different kinds of leaders and oodles of ways to lead.
Being a good leader doesn’t mean there is fanfare around everything you do, nor does it mean you have to be leading thousands. In fact, if you spend all your time and energy doing things with great fanfare, trying to get people to pay attention and follow you, you will likely never be a great leader.
What does make a great leader, you ask? From what I’ve learned out of the books I’ve read and from spending time with amazing leaders in my life, I’ve discovered 10 traits that make damn fine leaders damn fine:
- Vision – probably the most important quality of damn fine leaders. They are big picture thinkers and love love LOVE to share their vision with others. Their vision is what keeps them focused and moving forward and is usually what draws others in to follow after them.
- Consistency – you know what to expect from these people because their actions and behaviours are consistent, no matter who they’re dealing with. They treat everyone the same regardless of age, sex, race, or financial status.
- Transparency – you’ll find no hidden agendas here They operate openly, with a purpose and intent that is clear and known. You never have to worry about being manipulated or taken advantage of by them because what you see is what you get.
- Character – they have strong morals and standards and make no apologies about sticking to them. They are very familiar with the high road and travel it often.
- Discipline – a damn fine leader understands that Rome wasn’t built overnight and that anything worth doing will take consistent daily effort to accomplish. They don’t need anyone to kick their butt because they are driven and highly self-motivated.
- Sacrifice – great leaders are no strangers to sacrifice, which goes hand in hand with discipline. They aren’t afraid to give up what they want right now for what they want long term.
- Follow-through – this is one of the biggest areas most people struggle with, myself included, and something most great leaders excel at. It’s easy enough to say you’re going to do something and to start something, but to actually follow through and see it through to completion is tough.
- Honesty – honesty is becoming less and less common these days. I know this is an area I’ve struggled with in the past. You tell a lie to get out of an awkward situation, you tell a lie to make yourself look better, you tell a lie to avoid work. Honesty is absolutely essential in leadership. How many leaders have fallen from grace as a result of their dishonesty? To earn and keep people’s trust, you have to be committed to living all aspects of your life with honesty.
- Humility – the truly great leaders are those who don’t know they’re great. Those are the ones who are driven by their vision, not caught up in being a superstar. They are focused on moving forward and are open to the idea that they might not have all the answers or that someone else might know a better way to do things. They are also the ones who are not afraid to admit when they’re wrong.
- Confidence – not to be mistaken for pride or ego, confidence is necessary to all great leaders. They have to believe in who they are and what they’re about 100% in order to weather any judgment or criticism along the way and stay focused on the end game.
While no one has perfectly mastered all of these skills and qualities, the best leaders know they are crucial to powerful leadership and work on themselves regularly in these areas.
Leadership is not all about being wildly charismatic and extroverted. It’s about having a vision and pursuing it with such conviction, commitment, and passion that others can’t help but come on board. When you combine that vision with these other traits, you become an unstoppable force on your way to being a phenomenal leader.