I am sure all of us could come up with an exhaustive list of our own thoughts on what qualities a leader must possess and demonstrate to lead people effectively. A simple google search of “qualities a leader must have” only returns about 60 million searchable links. So we know there are lots of opinions out there.
Here are three qualities that a leader must demonstrate to the people they are leading.
Courage: Leadership is hard. You have to be willing to do the uncomfortable things that push an organization forward or people forward. You have to be willing to make a decision that is best for everyone, and not just someone. Leaders have to be willing to be vulnerable and admit their faults publicly. This is where I have watched first hand many leaders fail miserably. They don’t have the courage to be vulnerable, admit they are falling short, admit that their way is not working, show support for a differing opinion, or get out-of-the-way and let someone else lead.
Question: Do you have the courage to make a behavioral change and share that publicly with your team?
Discipline: Do as I say not as I do. I have watched this so many times in my career. Have you? Leaders must be disciplined in every thing they do and say. Show me an undisciplined leader and I will show you an ineffective leader. Leaders must show up early, stay late. They must follow-up when they say they are going to follow-up. They must implement a process and a plan and be disciplined enough to continue to follow it. They must demonstrate disciplines in their own personal life as well. A person in leadership that doesn’t have discipline in their personal life, it will eventually show in their business life. I believe they are not separate. Who you are, is who you are. And that person is at home and in the office. You are not two different people.
Question: What are the disciplines you need to show and display to lead others more successfully?
Humility: And lastly, a leader must demonstrate humility. I have heard leaders say they are humble and will actually tell others that they are humble. To me, the fact that you are saying you are humble verifies that you are not humble. The real leader doesn’t have to say anything, they just are what they are. They don’t have to show everyone that they are the boss. They can take a step back and not have an opinion on everything. They can give recognition to others. CS Lewis said it this way: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.” I believe he sums humility up best with that quote.
Question: When is the last time you demonstrated humility with a peer or a subordinate?
Whether you are a leader now, or aspire to be a leader. The above three qualities are necessary for you to be an effective leader, and by effective I mean, being a leader that others want to follow.
To your success and your future.