Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Top Three Qualities of a Leader

The question “What are the three top qualities a leader must have?” was posted on a discussion within the Linked2Leadership group on LinkedIn. Leadership qualities and leadership development are both subjects that have been and will continue to be studied, discussed and debated. Deciding on the top three is an almost impossible task. As situations develop and change within an organization of any kind the needed qualities and abilities for the leader change. That said let me offer three leadership qualities that I believe necessary regardless of situation.

1. A Strong Sense of Self. A good leader thoroughly understands his strengths and his weaknesses. He is comfortable in his skin. This knowledge of self allows him to build a diverse team that shores up his weaknesses and compliments his strengths.

2. Visibility. You cannot lead if you are not seen or heard. A good leader knows that she has to get out amongst her team and work hand in hand with them. An office, cubical or desk-based leader rapidly loses touch with what is happening day to day with members of her team. When you lose touch on a day to day basis you miss seeing small and easily fixed issues before they become a larger crisis. If you are consistently dealing with large problems I would suggest you need to dial up the visibility and find out what is actually taking place with your organization.

3. Excellent Communicator. By communication I mean both speaking and listening. A good leader listens more than he/she speaks. You need to ask questions and get the full picture before acting. A good leader gets input but accepts the final responsibility for whatever action is decided upon. You also need to constantly remind your people about the larger purpose of the organization in general and their job in particular. People become truly motivated when they understand the greater purpose they are involved in.

Obviously these three qualities and this blog entry just begin to scratch the surface of leadership. There are many (1000’s) of books and articles that discuss leadership. Two of my favorites are:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

In order to develop your fullest potential you need to develop your leadership skills. There is just no getting around the fact that good leaders are always in demand and that your leadership skills will propel you farther and faster on your success journey than any other skill set you may acquire.

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