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Qualities of a Leader

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Posted 02 July 2012 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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Qualities of a leader

Are leadership qualities innate or are they learnable?

Answer
They are not innate.

Leadership qualities are learnable.

How do we know that leadership qualities are learnable?
Because leadership qualities are complex skills and all complex skills are learned skills.
Nobody was ever born with innate knowledge of complex tasks.

The only instinctive behaviour you were born with were the same three behaviours that every other person is born with:

  1. How to suckle
  2. To be afraid of loud noises and
  3. of falling

Every other behaviour you possess is learned behaviour.
That is the same for everyone.
Even great leaders.

All leaders had to learn their art.
All leaders have to learn the qualities of leadership.
So you too can learn the qualities of leadership.

How can you learn the qualities of leadership?

You can learn leadership by taking the following three steps:

  1. Analyse the definition of leadership and deduce attributes that the definition presupposes.
  2. Observe the instances of great leadership and make a list of all the distinguishing characteristics that all great leaders share.
  3. Look at what common weaknesses and vices that all great leaders are careful to avoid.

Make a list of the answers to the above questions and you will gain an insight into the qualities of leadership.
When you have gained such an insight, then go to work to exemplify the strengths of leaders and eliminate the weaknesses that are present in all non-leaders.
Practice the art until you begin to succeed and then - keep going.

Let us try to answer the above three questions in an attempt to gain some insights into leadership qualities.

1. Analyse the definition of leadership and deduce attributes that the definition presupposes

The definition of a leader is: "A member of a team or organisation who is primarily responsible for the creation and communication of a clear vision and the ability to inspire others to act in order to achieve the vision".

What qualities does this definition presuppose exists, in the mind of the leader?

Here are three:

  1. The ability to create and sustain (for years) a long range goal.
  2. The ability to communicate the goal clearly to the minds of others.
  3. The ability to speak in such a way as to inspire the emotion of desire in the minds of others.

All leaders have the above attributes.
All of the above skills are learnable.

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

Leadership Training - The Effective Leader Manager

As the team leader or manager, you know that, on the technical level, you are very good. In your role as an effective and inspirational leader-manager, you recognise that there may be some gaps. Now you are searching for a method to help you to improve your skills as a team-leader and manager - click here to find out more!

2. Observe the instances of great leadership and make a list of their shared distinguishing characteristics

Look at the following list of great leaders

  1. Winston Churchill (a political leader)
  2. Margret Thatcher (a political leader)
  3. Horatio nelson (military leader)
  4. Marin Luther king (civil rights leader)
  5. Napoleon Bonaparte (political and military leader)6. Walt Disney (business leader)

What additional qualities do these leaders all possess and by virtue of which makes them a leader?

Here are three additional qualities suggested by the above list:

  1. Courage
  2. Determination
  3. Personal initiative
  1. Courage is the ability to move forward and advance in spite of fear or threat.
  2. Determination in the ability to move forward in spite of setbacks and defeats.
  3. Personal initiative is the ability to act before anyone asks you to, or before circumstances demand it.

All the above three attributes are learnable skills.

3. Look at what common weaknesses and vices that all leaders are careful to avoid

Here are common weaknesses that leaders are careful to avoid

  1. Unfounded pessimism
  2. Laziness
  3. Lack of self-confidence

1. No leader tolerates unfounded pessimism

Unfounded pessimism the vice of assuming things will go wrong before you even begin.

2. Laziness

Laziness is the vice of being unwilling to exert your effort.

Laziness is common No leader tolerates laziness Leaders expect people to give their best efforts.

3. Lack of self-confidence

Lack of self-confidence is common.
No leader tolerates Lack of self-confidence.
Lack of self-confidence is based on a fear of failure.
Leaders expect to succeed. They expect others, to expect to succeed!

Here then, are our additional qualities:

  1. Leaders expect to succeed
  2. Leaders exert their best efforts
  3. Leaders develop self-confidence

All the above three are also learnable skills.

Here is our final list
The definition of a leader is: "A member of a team or organisation who is primarily responsible for the creation and communication of a clear vision and the ability to inspire others to act in order to achieve the vision".

Leadership qualities include the following:

  1. The ability to create and sustain (for years ) a long range goal.
  2. The ability to communicate the goal clearly to the minds of others.
  3. The ability to speak in such a way as to inspire the emotion of desire in others.
  4. Courage: the ability to move forward and advance in spite of fear or threat.
  5. Determination: the ability to move forward in spite of setbacks and defeats.
  6. Personal initiative: the ability to act before anyone asks you to, or before circumstances demand it.
  7. Leaders expect to succeed.
  8. Leaders exert their best efforts.
  9. Leaders develop self-confidence.

Now we have an insight, let us go to work to exemplify the strengths of leaders and eliminate the weaknesses that are present in all non-leaders.

Practice the art until you begin to succeed and then - keep going.

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