What are the key characteristics of leaders? What are those capabilities that they demonstrate that impact you and me?
We all have our favourite leaders, however, what is that common thread between all of them that we can identify? Well, I can after much thought narrow that down to three essential characteristics that they imbibe. Leaders influence, they manage and they follow as well!
Let’s make this conversation interesting and start with the influence aspect. Each of us has been influenced by at least one if not many people in our life. These leaders deeply impact lives, thinking, behaviour and are able to change the course of history. In the final analysis, they influence. Their works, their daily lives, writings, their actions and their spoken word have an influence on us, causing change – dramatic and significant change. I do regard influence as a key aspect of a leader.
Next, though in no particular order, comes to the ‘manage’ aspect. Contrary to popular belief leaders know how to manage. Aspects of planning, organising, directing and controlling are seen at various points in their lives and careers. Many a time, those who set on the path of being a leader would have demonstrated a managerial capability. Hence, learning to manage is a key component if one has to set out on the path to being a leader. There are some key learnings in being a manager, that hones one’s skills in their leadership journey.
That brings me to the last and most controversial characteristic, that of being a follower. Leaders are followers too. Being a follower is easily said than done. To follow requires a person to be humble. It’s only when one is humble, that a person is able to learn and gather knowledge. Any successful leader realises that. However, there are many leaders who have fallen by the way side and their downfall? A lack of humility and ego taking over. The ‘I know it all’ syndrome over spells disaster. That’s when ego eats leadership for breakfast! Crush ego and one can develop humility and if one is humble then there is open-mindedness. Open-mindedness leads to learning. Leaders are continuous learners.
I have deliberately left out names of leaders in this article leaving it to you to contemplate, validate, search, find, research and be curious! The purpose of this article was to invoke as much as it was to talk about a much spoken and written subject. I am still curious!