Leadership experts have offered a variety of leadership models to explain the essence of leadership. One of the common ways to define leadership is by listing the most important traits and characteristics of successful leaders. Depending on the situation, some traits will be more important than others, and the list of possible traits is long.
Thus, it is hard to pick the critical few; however, there are some which are fundamental to the essence of leadership regardless of the leader's specific situation. As a leadership expert, Nicole D Price says If you want to be a leader, these are traits that you will want to develop:
The foundation of all leadership is the trust between the leader and his or her followers. Leaders build trust with their followers by demonstrating integrity. When leaders act without integrity, they prove themselves to be untrustworthy. Untrustworthy leaders will quickly find themselves without followers and followers, they are out of a job.
Visioning is the ability to look into the future and define where you want to go. This is one of the primary tasks of any leader. Visioning requires a leader to be aware of their operating environment, analyze various options available, and conceptualize a plan to get to where they want to go. All effective leaders can define a more hopeful future - a vision. It is the vision that will inspire their followers and provide a rallying point for future action.
All leaders need courage at some point in their careers. They need courage when they want to face reality and move their organization in a new direction. Invariably, they will run into internal resistance from people who prefer the status quo or from external sources that oppose change. The leader's courage will determine their ability to lead in the face of adversity.
Leaders need to understand and relate to their followers. They do this with empathy. Empathetic leaders understand what is important to their followers, what motivates them, and how best to address their needs. Without empathy, leaders will have a more difficult time connecting to their followers. This will make the challenge of leading more difficult.
All effective leaders need to navigate the political currents both inside and outside their organizations. The ability to understand different political points of view, build coalitions, and navigate the whitewater is crucial to accomplishing their mission. These collective abilities are embodied in the trait called political savvy.
These traits are fundamental to leadership success. All leaders, regardless of their special situation, will need to act with integrity and courage, develop and communicate a vision for their future, and use empathy and political savvy to implement their plan.
To be clear, these may not be the only traits that a leader may need for success; however, without these five particular traits, the chances of success are slim. Before you focus on other leadership traits, make sure that you have mastered these five.
Nicole D Price is an author and leadership consultant. She has extensive leadership experience as a business executive. She has been a hands-on leader in a variety of organizations large and small.