David Hakala, defines leadership rather neatly as, “one’s ability to get others to willingly follow.” I think the word worth noticing in this statement is ‘willingly’. The ability to have others follow enthusiastically has to be a key element of good leadership.
Former chairman and CEO of General Electric Co (GE) said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
Leaders tend to have certain character traits. A leader has a vision, knows what success is and how to achieve it and has the discipline to realize goals with his or her team. Hakala says, “Action is the mark of a leader. A leader does not suffer ‘analysis paralysis’ but is always doing something in pursuit of the vision, inspiring others to do the same.”
Hakala goes further and lists nine key attributes of good leadership skills.
Integrity is ‘the integration of outward actions and inner values.’ This means that someone with integrity can be trusted because this is a person who will never veer from his or her own values even if it might be convenient to do so. In order for a leader to cultivate trust from his or her followers, a leader must always act with integrity. Acting with integrity includes ‘an absences of tantrums and harsh outbursts’, dealing honestly, reacting predictably and controlling emotions all signal integrity.
Dedication is something that a leader inspires through example by doing whatever is required to move forward towards success.
Magnanimity is about giving credit where credit is due and taking responsibility for failures in the organization. This generosity helps people feel good about their achievements and brings your team closer together.
Humility in a leader indicates that his or her status does not make them some kind of deity. They do this by elevating everyone in the team rather than by being self-effacing.
Openness is important so that the leader can hear new ideas and build mutual trust and respect within the team.
Creativity is most important to a leader. The most important question that a leader should always be asking is ‘What if…’
Fairness is linked to integrity and is a simple as ‘dealing with others consistently and justly.’ Fairness in a leader promotes loyalty and dedication in followers.
Assertiveness is the ability to put one’s expectations forward so that there will be no misunderstandings. According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, it is either being under assertive or overassertive, which are the common failings among aspiring leaders.
Finally, a sense of humour is vital to encourage creativity, diffuse hostility and encourage camaraderie.