Here’s a quick list of characteristics and habits that describe genuine leaders. We’ve all seen lists like this, but to add a different layer of description, each attribute in this list of leadership is balanced by the opposite quality. Sometimes we need to develop a quick profile of the people around us to assist us in selecting employees, friends or role models. Maybe you’re just curious to see how you stack up as a leader.
1. Know the difference between having a reason based upon fact, and an excuse meant to evade or limit their liability.
2. Are accountable, accepting the burden of duty; they do not rationalize, trying to dodge responsibility or justify their failures.
3. Speak in terms of what can be done, not what can’t be done.
4. Always have a back up plan, they are prepared for contingencies; they do not rely on chance, blaming whatever goes wrong on simple happenstance, outside the limits of their control.
5. Work with vision and purpose; they are not erratic, unstable or unpredictable.
6. Are proactive, controlling events; they are not reactive, letting events dictate to them.
7. Bloom in challenging times; they don’t wilt under pressure.
8. Are adaptable and flexible; they are not intractable, nor do they freeze up when confronted with unexpected changes in conditions or plans.
9. Build others up; they do not tear others down.
10. Expect complete integrity and dedication to mission, personally setting the performance bar; they do not set standards for others while exempting themselves.
There are some aspects of leadership that can be learned. However, it is not possible for everyone to master all ten of these characteristics. We can’t all be concert pianists either. The world would be a mess if everyone were a leader; who would follow?
Leadership is not a value judgment. May I suggest that we think of it as a particular combination of talents and temperament. One who is an authentic leader is not necessarily a better person than one who is not.
This list of ten traits is meant to help you accurately visualize what genuine leadership looks like. Use it as a guide and method for comparison. To be an authentic leader you must do what authentic leaders do.