It’s interesting to note that ‘leadership’ is one of the most sought-after, desired and coveted qualities for people from all backgrounds, professions, races, religions, and regions. Everyone wants to be a leader, not a follower, and everyone wants to learn the precise leadership traits that are going to set him/ her apart from the crowd.
There are tons of identified leadership qualities that we all know about: a leader must be positive in his approach, a leader should be a visionary, a leader should be able to affect the change he wishes to make in his team, a leader should influence and motivate the followers and a leader should be dedicated. These are the leadership traits that we’re all aware of - nothing to sneeze at.
However, there are more leadership traits that are less recognized, somewhat intangible and are more “behind the scenes” qualities that actually separate the amazing leaders from the average leaders. These are the leadership traits that all the great leaders have in common. Let’s take a look at them:
Being Open to Learning
True, a leader has to know more than others or be more proficient or skilled or talented or insightful to be able to lead people.
But, at the same time, it’s essential to recognize, and appreciate, that a leader cannot know everything. A leader who thinks he knows everything or doesn’t want to learn new things is not going to be effective for very long. Times move ahead at a rapid pace and even someone who is a master at his craft will become obsolete unless he’s willing to learn new things.
Researching different aspects of your trade, meeting with other professionals in the industry, reading about your field of interest, attending and participating in seminars, discussions, events and more, seeking other people’s opinions and advice and being open to new ideas is the first common trait amongst all great leaders.
Despite the very obvious wisdom of a leader needing to be emotionally aware, sensitive and open, it still comes as a defining trait of all leaders is their high degree of Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ). The idea of EQ is a recent phenomenon in business circles, but it dates back far in the pages of history.
The best leaders of all time, be it Nelson Mandela or Lady Diana, were people who were well aware of and in tune with their own emotions and feelings, as well as the feelings of people who were around them.
Being able to understand every little feeling, predict it and use it to shape your actions and thoughts, as well as those of others around you is one of the most crucial leadership skills.
Controlling The Self Before Others
If you ask any of the best known and most loved leaders the one leadership skill that can make or break a leader’s effectiveness, the answer would be the same: self-control. Being able to master oneself is the first step to mastering other people. Not surprisingly, self-control manifests in several ways. A great leader is one who is self-aware, cognizant of his faults and strengths, able to regulate his own behavior and actions and capable of keeping himself motivated and focused.
A leader who is in control of himself will be able to stick to the plan without any distractions, won’t lose focus, won’t get discouraged by setbacks and will, to put it simply, keep his “eyes on the prize”, always. If you’re prone to giving into your impulses and emotions, if you’re all too proud about your achievements but can’t face criticism over your drawbacks, if you think you don’t have any shortcomings at all, you don’t have a hope of managing a team or a group. A self-aware and controlled leader is always calm, assured, sure of himself and happy to be accountable for his actions as a leader.
Intuitiveness Is Central To Leadership
One of the most significant, yet least acknowledged, leadership traits that almost all leaders have in common is a strong sense of intuition. Intuitiveness about one’s field, about the possible outcomes of a proposed idea or plan, about the people one is dealing with and about the situation one is in is crucial to performance.
A good leader is able to immediately gauge a situation, a person, a plan, a message and dive straight into the heart of things and appraise them, before even committing to anything. While other leadership skills can be adopted and perfected with time, intuitiveness is often said to be an in-born trait that can only be honed but cannot be procured.
Whether you’re a leader in business or in politics, you will be surrounded by people. And where there are people, there will be social phenomena, forces and currents at work. And with all the shifts in balance, there will always be something new round the corner. The ability to predict the same, look forward to it and be ready to meet every next change and challenge is what binds all leaders together.
And being able to perform in any situation requires intuitiveness. It can be as simple as understanding the person across the boardroom table and tailoring your speech to meet with their unspoken desires or something as complex as predicting what millions around the world who you don’t know personally and will never meet want to hear, see and buy, and giving it to them. It is this sixth sense of sorts that separates leaders from managers and other people, and what all leaders have in common.