12 Most Attractive Qualities of A Great Leader

12 Most Attractive Qualities of A Great Leader

Great leaders are a rare breed.

Many would argue that some people are natural born leaders.  However, I believe that becoming a great leader takes commitment and effort.

Becoming a great leader isn’t about charisma or chance.  It’s about developing the skills necessary to lead, motivate, and influence people in good and bad times.

Although there are many skills that make someone a leader, here are twelve key traits that make a person a great leader.

1. They’re lifelong learners

Great leaders never stop learning about their industry, themselves, their team, and how to best motivate their people. They realize that there is never a point when you “know it all.” There is always something new to learn.

2. They listen

Great leaders understand the 2:1 ratio—two ears and one mouth. Leaders don’t just bark orders. They listen to their team, their customers, their peers, and their competitors because they know it is the best way to understand a situation so they can make the best decision possible.

3. They accept and validate input

Great leaders don’t operate in a vacuum assuming that they always know best.  They know to consider input from everyone impacted by a decision in order to get buy-in from their team, stay grounded and remain objective. Although they retain final say, they’re team will stand behind the decision knowing that they’re input was wholeheartedly weighed and considered.

4. They consider the past, present and future

Great leaders understand where their organization has been, where it’s at, and where it’s going. They don’t only barrel forward, ignoring what’s happening now, nor do they ignore the lessons learned from past experiences. Instead they take a balanced approach so they can adjust, maintain, and move forward.

5. They know when to deliberate and when to shoot from the hip

Great leaders possess a strong knack for knowing when to make a decision and jump on an opportunity or when to exercise prudence instead.  It’s a skill developed over time, and those who master it are able to navigate through a variety of circumstances without sinking the ship.

6. They accept responsibility

They accept the consequences both good and bad for their decisions and leadership, even if it means going down with the ship.  They never pass the buck.

7. They demand excellence, but allow mistakes

Great leaders inspire people to grow and challenge them to be better than they are today.  They let people make mistakes and help them find ways to learn and improve instead of punishing them.

8. They create opportunities for others

Great leaders create opportunities for people to learn, grow, or even move on. They treat people as an end in themselves, not merely as a means to an end, making sure that everyone has the ability to thrive both within and outside of the organization.

9. They know how to motivate different kinds of people

Great leaders know that leadership is not one-size fits-all.  They understand how to assess and motivate different kinds of people toward success, not just people who think like them.

10. They stand behind and stand up for their people

Great leaders know that respect and integrity rests on the fact that they will stand up for their people and push them forward. The best leaders aren’t necessarily the ones in front.

11. They know that s*@t always rolls uphill

Great leaders know that negative talk and gossip kill morale and breed distrust.  They don’t talk badly about anyone in front of their team.  Instead they save it for the boardroom, mastermind team, or other confidant.

12. Who they are doesn’t change from situation to situation

A great leader is the same person at work, at home, in front of the boss, or on the street. Their values don’t change to suit the whims of others.

 

Great leaders put others first and find ways to help others grow.  They’re not rock stars or talking heads.  They’re cheerleaders, teachers, listeners, moderators, and can be found at any level of an organization—not just in management.

Above all, a great leader is nothing without people.

 

Photo courtesy of Ghost of Fuji. Used under creative commons, some rights reserved.

Shennandoah Diaz

http://www.brassknucklesmedia.com

Shennandoah Diaz is the CEO and Master of Mayhem of Brass Knuckles Media, an uncensored PR & Marketing firm catering to innovative, socially conscious experts and businesses. Diaz is the Rebel Leader of the Brass Knuckles Revolution, a movement teaching people how to live up to their potential while also doing something meaningful for others. She accomplishes this by teaching social entrepreneurship and mentoring people on how to build meaningful organizations through such outlets as Sharp Skirts, Next Fest, and Tech Ranch Austin.

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35 comments
SOAW1
SOAW1

I like #1 & #4 because you can never know everything and I believe you can't have succeful growth if you don't look at the past, know where you are in the present, and plan and prepare for the future. 

bevel1
bevel1

I especially like #7...thanks for the read. I'm going to save this one.

hopit
hopit

thanks so much it helped me on a progect

elisa marcelino
elisa marcelino

yeah...its really hard to be a leader and i really appreciate those leaders who are doing and performing there job well

eduk8andlead
eduk8andlead

Great post. I realize that my post from 10.19.11 fed into this one nicely. I really like the focus on people and how they are the difference makers. You have another follower now! :)

GrandmaOnDeck
GrandmaOnDeck

This post has 12 very important points on good leadership. I especially like the one of being the same at work or at the office-in good times and bad.. Eliminating situational leadership is another.

sanchezjb
sanchezjb

Great list! It is very focused on leaders enabling their people to do things. From this perspective, I would add "Leaders get things done." This doesn't mean that they themselves get things done but they know how to motivate and influence others to achieve goals and deliver results. In the course of doing this, 1 - 12 all apply. This isn't explicitly called out in your list but it is the most important attribute of a leader.

Additionally, "Leaders surround themselves with the right people." This is critical to getting things done. With a few exceptions (small teams), leaders need to rely on a core team to help them. They need to know what attributes that core team should have. The people in the core team don't need to be the "smartest people in the room" but they need to be able to work together (have chemistry), know how to collectively leverage their knowledge and experience so it counts, and to your #3, unflinchingly provide input and feedback to the leader.

douglaserice
douglaserice

Excellent list! Love #12. A person cannot be a leader without consistent values and stable principles. If you change from situation to situation, you are doing the opposite of leading; you are being led. Leaders are anchored; you always know who they are and where they stand. That's what makes them followable. Great stuff!

margieclayman
margieclayman

I love love love this post, my friend! I especially love the S*** rolls uphill one. I've never actually heard that exact expression before, but I love it!

If there's one trait I admire that you don't have listed here, it's vulnerability. I think the best leaders know when to show emotion and when to be rock solid. It's an extremely nuanced gift and if you blow it it can make you look really really bad. If you do it right, it can make you stand out from the crowd.

Great post!

westfallonline
westfallonline

Situational leaders reminds me of situational ethics, which is (I think) the opposite of integrity. If I read you right, a leader doesn't change his spots...and I think your list is right on!

EmmaofCEM
EmmaofCEM

From one Austinite to another, thank you for this fabulous post! How did you go about comprising this list? What research went into it?

pbehnia
pbehnia

Love love love this list... how do I favorite all of them? I can't. But I do have a fondness for #1 and #9. Thank you for writing this thoughtful post. :)

Biebert
Biebert

Great list! I think #8 is one big one that leaders fail to think about. Sometimes you need to let the butterfly go.

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@eduk8andlead Thanks! People really are the difference in any organization. All the systems and documents in the world won't do any good without the right people to implement them.

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@GrandmaOnDeck Thanks for the kind words and yes, we should always know what to expect from our leaders in any situation, anywhere.

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@sanchezjb Great points! I totally agree. Leaders can't do it all themselves. They need a great team to get things done (which means delegating and giving people the support they need to get things done). Thanks for the great addition to the conversation!

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@margieclayman Hey Margie! The S@*t rolls uphill is a military one. Morale is so important in teh military especially in a combat situation. The second a unit sees their leaders waiver or turn negative the nerve of the whole team is gone. Not good when bullets are whizzing by.

You bring up a good point about the vulnerability. Leaders shouldn't be stoic--we have to know you're human, we just want to believe you're stronger than the rest of us ;-) Thanks as always for your wonderful insight!

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@westfallonline Chris you're reading me right--situational leaders aren't leaders they're actually followers. Leaders sometimes have to go against the grain to charge the way. Someone who changes their ethics to fit the situation isn't someone leading the way (and often they're the first to bail ship when things go south--mixing metaphors again I know:-D).

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@EmmaofCEM Thanks so much for the great feedback! I've actually held several leadership positions and come from a family of leaders. I just sat down and thought about what we've seen in great leaders (and the bad qualities on those who didn't impress me). I have read John Maxwell's book on leadership and several others, but most of it is based on over 20 years of experience in business, community service, and my time in ROTC and Civil Air Patrol (so yes, some military philosophy thrown in).

ShennandoahDiaz
ShennandoahDiaz

@Biebert And its often the most heartbreaking part of being a leader, but its also the best! Thanks for your comments :-D

Biebert
Biebert

@ShennandoahDiaz You're welcome. I think losing people is heartbreaking, but the ones that stay do appreciate the respect and available freedom.

Plus, the great ones rarely leave a great leader.

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