If you want to be a great leader who attracts other great people, you first must find great qualities within yourself.

But leadership qualities often come as a paradox, packaged along with their contradictions.

Here are seven surprising but important traits of great leaders--see which you should be leaning into.

1.     Be strong and vulnerable. Great leaders need to be strong in their convictions, relentless in their values and passionate in their beliefs. They also need to be vulnerable enough to show their weaknesses and flaws. We cultivate strength when we allow our most vulnerable selves to be seen and known.

2.     Be tender-hearted and tough-minded. Leadership is a combination of toughness and tenderness; it's a combination of both. A great leader partners a tough mind with a tender heart. Do not mistake a tender heart for a weakened mind, and do not confuse a tough mind with a heartless soul. if you want to excel in business and transcend in leadership, allow your tough mind and tender heart to integrate. In Japanese the kanji kokoro can also be pronounced as shin--a word that can mean either heart and mind. We need that integration to make us whole and successful.

3.     Be willing to help and willing to step back. Great leaders are compassionate; they aspire to relieve the suffering of others. They use language like I understand you and I want to help you. Just as important, a leader must be able to use the language of having faith in others--words like I believe in you, You can do it. You need both, because you don't want to become an enabler or a fixer who takes away the power people have within themselves to make things happen.

4.     Be open-minded and decisive. Great leaders are always great listeners and communicators, open to opinions and available to listen to new ideas. But there comes a moment when they must step up, be decisive and make the call, even if it's unpopular.

5.     Be respectful and candid. Great leadership grows out of earning and showing respect--treating others as you would want to be treated, talking to people the way you would want to be talked to. At the same time, there are moments when a leader has to say things that people might not want to hear. Being candid takes courage, but ultimately it implies equality--especially when it's combined with respect.

6.     Be flexible and stubborn. Leadership requires flexibility and agility; leaders know that change is inevitable and need to know how to move with the ever-changing times. But great leaders are stubborn when it comes to things that are important--doing the right thing, being ethical, leading with integrity and character.

7.     Be proud and humble. Like many other things, pride can be either a positive or a negative. You want to be proud of your people and their hard work and accomplishments, but you must temper your pride with humility. To be a humble leader takes great courage, and it's critical in creating an environment where employees feel included, acknowledged and appreciated.

Leadership is a fierce combination of contradictions that add up to surprising things that make us great leaders.

Published on: May 12, 2016