Leadership is not a title. It is a responsibility. Being a leader is more than attaining a position or possessing formal authority over others. The best leaders succeed in bringing out the best in their people, recognizing that the people in their charge are their responsibility, inspiring hope in troubling times, and guiding their people with purpose, vision, and heart.
If you want to improve as a leader, start by studying what makes a great leader. According to Howard M. Shore, the bestselling author of The Leader Launchpad, it’s important to look not just at a leader’s results, but also at how they impact others and how they conduct themselves, both publicly and privately. In addition, you should look at Simon Sinek’s How Great Leaders Inspire Action.
Here are five characteristics of the best leaders.
The greatest leaders have genuine integrity.
Legendary leaders always attempt to do the right thing, even when it is difficult. They put aside their own interests, wishes and take the right action. They remain committed to their people, without exception, not their own selfish ideas. While many leaders choose their own interests and then act surprised when others would consider another choice, the best leaders always put their people first.
The best leaders always demonstrate humility.
History’s best leaders realize that their success is a consequence of the efforts of many. No one succeeds on their own, and the best leaders remain humble in how they got to their leadership position. When you embrace humility as a leader, you commit to learning others’ ideas and methods because you know you do not have all the answers and you know you can always improve. This is best found in Abraham Lincoln’s message comment to General U.S Grant, ““I know wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.”
Your team needs to know that you care.
Your people want to know you care about them. Are you genuine and clear in expressing your care and concern for them? This Is not about work and performance; they need to know you care for them personally. Many leaders are selfish about receiving the best care for themselves, but when it comes to giving care, they hold back and then act surprised by the consequences. Extraordinary leaders know how to put themselves in another person’s shoes and empathize with them. Weak leaders do not care to hear any other points of view but are only concerned with their own reputation and success.
The best leaders are consistent.
Have you ever seen a leader behave erratically? When you cannot count on a leader to be reliable and predictable, you are going to feel stress, worrying about what the leader might do next. This creates anxiety. Instead, aim to lead consistently. Stay true to your word. The best leaders always do.
Great leaders lead through influence rather than command and control.
Poor leaders believe that others are here to serve them something like minions. Exceptional leaders know they are here to serve others and change their lives in a positive way. Influence is the ultimate superpower. Great leaders do not just influence their own small team, they impact their business, their entire community, and maybe even the world.
There is no single path to being a great leader. The great thing is that you have a choice in how you lead. You can choose to lead with integrity, humility, care, consistency, and influence. If you want exceptional leadership, you must choose it.