Good leadership is essential across all walks of life if individuals, companies, and even countries are to attain their goals and become all they can be. However, look back in history, and you’ll see countless examples of both good and bad leadership – often with dramatic results.
As with many other examples in life, history can be a great teacher, and studying the qualities of leaders over the years can help identify what constitutes great leadership. Indeed, the qualities required in good leaders have remained surprisingly similar – no matter what time or nationality you look at.
The seven qualities required for leaders
Most experts suggest good leaders have seven key qualities which help them perform to their best. Thankfully, with a little self-study, practice, and repetition, many of these qualities can become second nature, improving your chances of becoming a successful leader. For example, studying for a masters in educational leadership could see you progress to the top of the tree as a teacher, eventually working as the principal of a college or university.
However, while education will undoubtedly help structure your outlook and practices, you should also take time to work at your own personality to improve these seven key traits of good leaders:
Learn to develop a sense of courage – both in your abilities and to help you take risks: Good leaders realize not every decision will work out for the best but still have the confidence to make potentially risky decisions on the route to the attainment of their eventual goal. Having this strength of personality to accept that every decision we make in life comes attached with a risk of some kind is one of the most important traits of all successful leaders.
Try to develop a sense of vision: Without exception, all the greatest leaders throughout history have possessed an almost uncanny ability for crystal ball gazing into the future to see exactly where they want to be and what they want to achieve. Having a clear vision of what you want will change you from a mere manager into a leader capable of transformation.
Recognize the need to be humble: While good leaders are bold, they are also humble and learn to successfully balance the two. Sure, you need to be confident – but there’s no need to let that confidence spill into cockiness.
Maintain a sense of integrity and truthfulness: Sometimes, things are hard to say – but that doesn’t mean you’ll find any value in trying to cover things up. If you’re to gain the trust and respect of your peers, you need to be fully honest with them – this applies as much to your team as it does to suppliers and clients.
Remember the importance of focus: Avoiding distraction and maintaining focus is essential if you’re to achieve your goals. A good leader will keep focus on his or her goals while also realizing their own particular strengths and those of their team.
Think strategically and plan ahead: When you have an end-point in your mind, it becomes considerably easier to work out how you’re going to get there. Good leaders always have one eye on the future, one on the here and now – and can work out how best to get from A to B.
Learn that cooperation is the key to getting things done: Great leaders realize the importance of the saying, “No man is an island” and know that they simply can’t do everything alone. By motivating and involving team members, they are far more likely to achieve the desired goals. They also respect the 80/20 rule (that 20% of resources generate 80% of the results) so instinctively know who the most valuable collaborators are.