Defining Leadership

What is Leadership?

Everybody defines leadership differently but I think John C Maxwell defines leadership best as, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Regardless of how you define leadership, I’m pretty sure we can all agree that he or she can prove to be a difference maker between success and failure. A good leader has a long term vision and knows how to turn their ideas into reality and create success stories.

Qualities that define a “good leader”

Let’s take a look at some common leadership qualities that good leaders have, whether they are gained through training and experience or come innately:

  1. Honesty and integrity
  2. Confidence
  3. Inspire Others
  4. Commitment and Passion
  5. Good Communicator
  6. Decision Making Capabilities
  7. Accountability
  8. Delegation and Empowerment
  9. Creativity and Innovation
  10. Empathy
  11. Resilience
  12. Emotional Intelligence
  13. Humility
  14. Transparency
  15. Vision and Purpose

To become a good leader, you must demonstrate all these qualities. If you lack some of these qualities, then you might have a harder time making it in the real-world of leadership. You will have to set a good example for others to follow. That is where your commitment, passion, empathy, honesty and integrity come into play. Good communication skills and decision-making capabilities play a vital role in the success of a leader because without those qualities, how will you provide a team with guidance, understanding, or encouragement? how will you be able to teach them how to lead others one day? Lastly, creativity and innovation, as well as vision and purpose, are qualities of a good leader because when times get tough (and they will), a good leader will be resourceful, do things that have never been done before, and give their team a reason to move forward and be resilient.

How to become a better leader

1. Professionalism

Being a pro at all times can be difficult. Sometimes we get tired and our performance may drop. We aren’t always prepared for what can happen on the job and this could cause us to make decisions that don’t follow our core values. 

But nonetheless, it is important to understand that being a professional doesn’t mean we don’t slip up. What it means is that we always give it our best. From there we can check our performance and put improvements in place. That way the next time something unexpected happens, we are better prepared to succeed and make the right decision.

2. Service

As leaders, we are servants. Our job is to serve our employees, our employer, our clients. It’s our responsibility to out-perform the competition and go to the second-mile when we service them. We become sensitive to the needs of those we serve. Those needs dictate our activity schedule and set our priorities.

Please know that I’m not demeaning what it means to be a leader. The greatest leaders I’ve known were willing servants, they carried out actions that most people in their position wouldn’t. Service leadership usually comes from leaders who have an innate attitude to assist others; with this, they are able to establish loyalty, trust and faith from their followers. Be willing to serve, and you will be served.

3. Courage

There are moments in the life of a leader when a lack of courage can destroy effectiveness. Employees want and need a courageous leader. They want someone who will defend them in times of need. They want someone who will break down walls. They want someone who will always engage in truthfulness when assessing their performance without being overly critical or judgmental.

Boldness is a form of courage; it displays a willingness to step out front and not shy away from challenges. At times, this could just mean having frank discussions with management. The leader must know that they will not win all challenges; but the willingness to behave in a bold manner is enough. It builds character and strength.

4. Generosity

Letting employees know how they can grow, improve their skills and heighten their performance is key. You have an obligation to keep growth as a goal for every team member. So, sharing your knowledge on workplace performance, as well as, personal experience makes you more in tune with others.

Improvement is the focus of a generous leader. They never hold back for fear of an employee getting promoted before them or learning more and leaving the office. Good leaders are happy with such a situation; they don’t block their team members ambitions, they nurture and support them. This means giving the qualified and potential building team members the opportunity to shine in the workplace.

5. Integrity

This is the universal leader characteristic. All leaders must have integrity. The question is, Do they?

The unfortunate answer is that all leaders don’t practice integrity. Some practice sleight-of-hand tactics. But those aren’t good leaders. They are corrupt, unethical and usually lead bad lives. To be a good leader, you need to be honest, reliable, and upright, all the good things leaders should represent.

6. Relationships

We all need relationships. If a leader fails to build relationships, it’s time to seek other employment. As a good leader, you grow your effectiveness as you build relationships. Become the master of relationships and watch your leadership soar.

Interacting on a personal level enhances the ability to work together and forge a bond. Leaders who build relationships create a bond of trust. They communicate openly, honestly and with candor. The truthfulness factor is a critical component of relationship building.

The most important element in forging any relationship begins with caring. If I care for you as a human being, I open the door to grow our relationship. Only by looking for the likability factor in others can we get our foot in the door and build space for each other to be the best.

7. Discipline (self-mastery)

Few things in life get done without discipline. Time management is a discipline. Maintaining our health and hygiene requires discipline. Growing a career is definitely a disciplined act.

Discipline is the lubricant of success. Without it, the wheels of progress get rusty and stop turning. Patience is the friend of such self-mastery. It allows time to think deeper and more thoroughly so we can avoid making serious leadership mistakes. Being in control requires discipline. It allows us the opportunity to achieve personal successes.