Leadership – what characteristics does one require?

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“True leadership is not defined by power, notoriety, authority, prestige, status or job title.”
Angie Morgan


This is such a wonderful quote and highlights that leadership is not entirely about having authority over others. It is what you do with the authority that has been placed in your hands and the positive impact that you have on the lives of those whom you lead.

You may operate in management roles in your place of work, voluntary groups, church ministry and in the running of your home.
Does this in itself make you a leader? 

Below I will outline my top eight characteristics of a true leader (in no particular order); 

1. A leader believes in those who are walking with him. He expects them to succeed. I say ‘walking’ rather than ‘following’ as leaders raise up leaders and managers simply have followers. 

2. A leader identifies the areas of strengths and weaknesses of those he leads. He works with them to develop on both, to bring out abilities they did not even know they possessed. 

3. A leader has passion. He is positive and believes in the cause. His passion inspires others to give their best. 

4. A leader has integrity. He does what he promises to do and has a valid reason if he cannot. He is honest with what he is able to deliver and does not give false hope. He does not take short cuts or focus solely on his own gain.

5. A leader can laugh at himself. He is confident enough to allow the ‘joke’ to be on him. He does not take himself too seriously. 

6. A leader does not think he has all the answers. He is aware of his limitations though he may not shout them from the rooftop!   He knows he can learn much by listening to the ideas of others and running with them if they are viable.  

7. A leader values people. He believes everyone has something to offer.  He appreciates those who go above and beyond the call of duty and has no problem in telling them so.

8. A leader works to understands people; why they act in the way they do. He identifies how he can work with those deemed as difficult and he cares about the things that concern them. 

So, to round up, these are eight qualities that I believe will enhance your effectiveness as a leader. You may already possess some of these qualities or indeed feel that some are not necessary for the journey you are taking.

Are there qualities you would add to this list?

Are you a leader and in what capacity?

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32 thoughts on “Leadership – what characteristics does one require?”

  1. These are all great points, Phoenicia. I like Point #6, about a leader not having all the answers. I believe that a great leader will realize they learn from everyone around them, and encourage them to provide ideas and solutions. It contributes to the feeling of camaraderie that’s the mark of a true leader!

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  2. I graduated from Army OCS, It is funny and a bit of contradiction of what you were saying. They teach that you have to force your will on others, and not to trust them.
    I have learned much, since those days. We need to trust in ourselves, and in others, I think this is the basis of any great leader. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  3. Oh I love these! I wish I had read this back when I worked in Human Resources, trying to get managers to be good leaders. You sum it up so well Phoenicia!

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  4. Good one, Phoenicia. Shared on LinkedIn and Twitter. There are times when leaders have to be managers as well…but no one wants to work for a full-time manager. Those types of bosses make their employees feel small and unnecessary. A good leader truly does focus on the strength of each individual and helps them learn to work around (or educate them out of) their weak areas. Bravo.

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  5. I have one I’d like to add. A leader strives to make himself expendable. He, or she, doesn’t try to create dependence but rather encourages those who he leads to be able to go forward on their own without the leader’s involvement.

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    1. Ken – great point to add. Leaders should train others up to be able to stand alone rather than lean on them. Insecure leaders often crave dependency as it makes them feel indispensable.

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  6. Phoenicia, the one quality that stood out for me here was – A leader believes in those who are walking with him. He expects them to succeed. I say ‘walking’ rather than ‘following’ as leaders raise up leaders and managers simply have followers.
    That is so true. Often those in charge just take on the ‘do this’ approach, very much like the boss in the image.

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    1. I believe a leader will receive so much more from their employees when they work alongside them rather than yards ahead. It is obvious they are the leader so no need to highlight it at every opportunity as some do.

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  7. Great list Phonecia, but man that last one is a toughie. Not sure I’ll ever figure out why some people do the things they do. I have repeatedly found myself thrust into leadership roles, and yet I never aspired to be a leader. I’m much more at home in the role of teacher and coach but then looking at your list I realize there is a good deal of overlap between the two roles. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  8. I think being a leader is working and living as an example. Being a boss organizing others to live and work as you tell them. It seems that being a leader would be more effective in the long-run.

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    1. Erica – yes being a leader is about setting the example. You should not ask someone to do something that you would not be willing to do. People watch for leaders to take the lead.

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