Executive Insights: 12 Characteristics of Great Leaders By Maureen Metcalf
This is a guest post written by Mike Figliuolo. Mike was a Voice America guest on the show Lead Inside the Box and is a respected colleague.
The differences between a good leader and a great one boil down to a handful of traits that set the great leaders apart. Fortunately, all these traits are skills you can build over time.
Most of us are good leaders. Most of us aspire to be great leaders. Few are. Whatâs it take to transcend âgoodâ and become âgreat?â Whatâs the secret?
There isnât one.
The foundation for being a great leader is building a set of traits that inspire people to follow you and achieve outstanding results. In my experience, there are a dozen traits that are required before a leader can even hope to be great.
Building and demonstrating these traits does not guarantee greatness. Not by a long shot. But the absence of any one of these twelve traits will definitely hold you back from being great. In no particular order, here are some key leadership differentiators. Great leaders are:
Authentic â what you see is what you get. They share their hopes, fears, dreams, and failures. They truly care to know you as a person and want you to know them the same way. They strip away the faÃ§ade and reveal their true selves to their team every day.
Visible â theyâre known throughout the organization. Theyâve built meaningful relationships with peers, subordinates, and superiors in seemingly every corner of the company. Their reputation precedes them in positive and powerful ways.
Influential â they can sway an audience with their words. They can make a case thatâs clear and moves people to action. Theyâre able to explain not only what they want done but also why itâs beneficial for the listener to support their idea.
Memorable â their stories inspire others. They make their actions memorable and the lessons they teach easily accessible. Everyone loves listening to their stories not only because theyâre entertaining but also because they inform, inspire, and instruct.
Compelling â they demonstrate gravitas in groups large and small. People are drawn to them because they know how to connect with their audience. Combined with their ability to influence and be memorable, the compelling leader galvanizes teams to action.
Efficient â they get stuff done. Fast. Theyâre mindful of how they manage their time as well as how they invest their energy in their team members. Their time investments are thoughtful. They invest based upon where theyâll get the greatest results long term for the time they put in.
Innovative â they see solutions that arenât obvious. They challenge existing ways of thinking and generate new ideas on a regular basis. They think big and push the organization beyond what it believes its limitations are.
Strategic â the future is something they think about quite frequently. They consider possible scenarios, plan for them, and generate approaches for winning in the markets of tomorrow. The choices they make are mindful of the possible actions of others in the market.
Thoughtful â when faced with a problem or a challenge, they stop and think before acting. They have the ability to break big problems into smaller ones, understand true root causes, and generate solutions that solve the real issue at hand.
Decisive â once theyâre done thinking and theyâve considered the options, they swing into action. While they may not have all the information, they have enough information to move forward. Theyâre able to balance judgment with risk and are willing to take calculated chances to have an impact on the organization.
Fair â when theyâre negotiating, they donât focus on winning for themselves. They focus on winning for everyone. They understand many negotiations are more about the long-term relationship than they are about saving a buck in an individual interaction. Theyâre able to prioritize fairness over profit. Whether the negotiation is with a team member who wants a day off or a supplier selling a multimillion dollar contract, these leaders strike deals that everyone finds acceptable.
Resilient â thereâs no shortage of challenges and failures for leaders to face. The great ones know how to pick themselves up when theyâve been knocked down. They carry on. They dust themselves off and summon strength from deep within to carry on the fight.
Do those 12 characteristics guarantee a leader will be great? Of course not. But theyâre a great start. Being deficient in any of them will hold you back from being the best leader you can be. I believe this so firmly that Iâve put together a two-day long learning event focused on helping leaders build these skills. Iâm hosting Executive Insight 16 on November 10-11 at the Waldorf Astoria New York. Itâs 13 sessions focused on practical, pragmatic approaches to building these critical leadership traits. Iâd love to have you join us. Visit www.executiveinsight16.com to learn more about the program and register. If you register by September 8th, youâll save up to $300 on the registration fee.
If you know you need to build any of these skills, find other leaders who already have them and see how you can learn from them. The sooner you improve your skills in these areas, the faster youâll become the leader youâre capable of being.
Mike Figliuolo is the author of The Elegant Pitch and One Piece of Paper. Heâs the co-author of Lead Inside the Box. Heâs also the managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC â a leadership development training firm. He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog. His firm is hosting Executive Insight 16 on November 10-11 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Itâs two days full of great learning and insights on leadership topics delivered by experienced executives on the thoughtLEADERS team. Learn more at www.executiveinsight16.com.