A Through M Characteristics of Great Leaders

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” John Maxwell
The old adage says that great leaders are made, not born. There is a lot of truth in this because quality leadership takes time to develop, and it needs to be cultivated and consistently practiced. Perhaps some people are predisposed to evolving into great leaders but anyone can be a great leader if they desire it, and take the necessary steps to live it. It is not always words or speech that characterize a strong leader, rather the action or inaction that does. Here are the A through M characteristics of great leaders which can be utilized in the classroom, on the athletic field, in the boardroom, at home, etc.
Ambitious- Effective leadership requires ambition. Great leaders have to desire to serve others directly or indirectly. The ambition doesn’t have to be demonstrated on a grand scale. Simply taking time to volunteer and serve homeless people requires a certain level of ambition that many people don’t possess. This is an example of the kind of action a great leader takes.
Brave- As a leader you are going to experience plenty of adversity and hardship. You have to be brave and courageous during these tough times because the people you are leading are counting on you to be their rock. Leaders have the right to worry just like everyone else, but you need to display a brave disposition during difficult situations.
Compassionate- It is vital that you exhibit compassion for the people you are leading, as well as for yourself. Your role as leader is going to be much more challenging if you aren’t able to empathize with your employees when they need it. At the same time accept your decisions even if they turn out to be the wrong ones.
Dedicated- If you aren’t committed to leading than you are never going to be a great leader. Too often people are put in positions of power, but they aren’t dedicated to the position, rather they take it for granted. Just because you are granted a position of power, doesn’t make you a great leader.
Empowering- Great leaders have to entitle their followers a certain level of authority. As an effective leader you trust that your workers can handle responsibilities. You allow them to grow through the delegation of tasks and objectives. This is why dictators of the past were not great leaders because they didn’t empower the people underneath them. They lead as a means to satisfy their own agendas.
Focused- Many objectives are going to be required of you. As a leader you have the challenge of choosing which goals are most pressing. This takes an incredible amount of focus and discipline. Great leaders have the ability to determine what is important and what isn’t.
Group-oriented- It sounds obvious but you can’t be a great leader if you are not focused on the needs of the people you are leading. If you are tyrannical, and only concerned with your needs and wants, then your leadership style is flawed. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Helpful- Don’t be a leader who sits in his or her ivory tower avoiding contact with the “little people” who are essential to your success. Be present among your students, disciples, followers, employees, etc. Offer to help them first. Don’t wait for them to come to you. This kind of pro-action is encouraging and supportive.
Innovative- Take time to be creative. Great leaders have an uncanny ability to develop unique ideas. Be innovative and inspire. This is one of the coolest parts of being a leader.
Jovial- Great leaders should have a sense of happiness or contentment for what they are doing. It shouldn’t be forced or fake, rather genuine and authentic. It doesn’t mean that you need to be walking around with a phony smile on your face. If you don’t enjoy leading than how are you going to be a great leader?
Kinetic- Great leaders are energetic about leading, and this is portrayed through their passion and work ethic. Even if you aren’t a seemingly enthusiastic person you can still lead in an enthusiastic manner. Your employees will feed of this energy especially amidst troubling times.
Loving- This shouldn’t be misconstrued as being soft or cuddly all the time. Great leaders don’t necessarily dote on their employees and tell them how much they love them. Great leaders show their loving attitudes through constructive criticism and if applicable, friendship. Not all leaders are going to be friends with the people they are leading, but a certain level of respect, care, and appreciation needs to be demonstrated.
Motivating- Great leaders know how to be influential and compelling. They know when to push and when to ease up. As a leader you should understand your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. You have to realize that each employee is different, and you can’t use a “one size fits all” strategy as motivation. What motivates some people doesn’t necessarily motivate others.

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