Many people also have the TV-inspired view that all leaders are like heroes who are there to save the day; they ignore the fact that leaders are mere mortals who are prone to the same mistakes that befall us all.
But there is something truly different about leaders: They bounce back. After failure, true leaders still have the poise and presence to convince us to follow them to the edge once again.
The big question is: What are the traits that set these people apart and how does one go about developing those same qualities?
A leader is more than an individual; he is the head of the pack. He is the one who always seems to know what to do and the one people seek out for advice.
He not only has a vision, but he also knows how to communicate it. A good leader must be able to convey his message both forcefully and convincingly, and so a certain mastery of oral communication is necessary. The result is that people are often bowled over by the clarity of his vision and the strength of his conviction, and they quickly fall in line.
While people are often overawed by leaders’ abilities, the real source of inspiration comes from two practices that most anyone can do: planning and goal setting. A leader is someone who determines which goals are important and develops a plan to meet them. He is the one who seemingly has solutions for every problem because he thought everything through before you even had a chance to begin.
True leaders believe in themselves. They feel that they have a high capacity to rise above the norm and make things happen.
Usually, this confidence stems from the fact that they are highly skilled individuals and have a broad knowledge of what it takes to get the job done. On the other hand, some successful leaders aren’t very skilled themselves, but they are able to identify those who are.
A strong leader must show consistency in his stance on issues and should not be easily swayed by others’ opinions. However, this is not to be mistaken for stubbornness, which can be a fatal flaw. Rather, a leader should be able to make rational decisions that are devoid of bias.
If you want to be the head honcho, you’ll also need to develop these characteristics…
Willingness to take risks
Many people refuse to take risks because they are afraid of failing. But if you are an aspiring leader, you have to ask yourself this: Is the risk worth taking?
A true leader must be willing to lead by example if he has determined that the benefits outweigh the potential dangers. But even so, many of us are not daring enough to take the plunge, and the people who take the most risks are often those who already have a good safety net in place.
If you have analyzed the risk and decided it is worth taking, you need to overcome this mental barrier in your mind. If you find it difficult to do so, keep on planning; the more prepared you are, the less risky a situation will be.
Leaders don’t give up without a fight. Things do not always come easily, and leaders must set an example by trying and trying again until they succeed. That said, leaders are also quick to see when they are fighting a losing battle and to resort to Plan B when that point is reached.
As a leader, you are expected to make hard decisions when others shy away from them. Whether that means letting someone go or making dramatic changes that affect your company, you are the one who must push it through.
A leader who is too soft often fails to get things done and has a tendency to be taken advantage of. Be merciless when the business requires you to be and stick to your decisions.
Leaders are generally familiar with all the aspects of their business and have a good understanding of how things work. They are aware of what goes on from the front lines to the top level. This wide perspective, combined with a meticulous attention to detail, allows them to recognize oddities where others cannot.
Willingness to sacrifice
Are you willing to do what it takes to get the job done? Being a good leader can be a demanding proposition because it requires a lot of face time and people management. This can eat into your personal life; you have to decide whether you are willing to make that sacrifice.
The business strategies that work well today might not tomorrow, and a leader must be quick to recognize this. Just as the company must adapt, so must the leader; he has to constantly learn new skills and find new approaches along the way.
A leader must not lose sight of his purpose or the purpose of those under his charge; if he does, he risks becoming out-of-date and bringing others down with him. Thus, it is important for a leader to demonstrate the foresight to bring about change and steer others toward it.
For aspiring leaders, the message is clear: Study the market and be critical of how you need to adjust.