Experts talk often about the importance of leadership in business and that corporations need strong leaders to grow and prosper. While leaders differ from one another as much as anyone, true visionary leaders share these five traits, and that is what makes makes them different from most people.
1. Leaders make difficult decisions decisively to share a clear vision.
Sometimes decisions seem impossible, but a leader recognizes the true issues and makes quick and confident decisions to prevent any ambiguity or confusion. They understand and share Teddy Roosevelt's take on leaders, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." Leaders also understand that making those decisions can be a lot like jumping from a building and hoping there's a net below.
2. Leaders are humble and recognize that they still have much to learn.
Movies and television often portray corporate leaders as selfish, ruthless people who will do whatever it takes to get ahead, no matter who else gets hurt. In real life, though, successful leaders are hard-nosed when it's necessary, but they are not arrogant. They understand that they don't know everything, and they are open-minded enough to look for opportunities to continue learning each day. An efficient leader gives others the same respect he or she expects to receive and recognizes that no job in the company is beneath him or her, whether it's making the morning coffee or even cleaning an occasional toilet.
3. Leaders inspire trust and motivate others.
In any organization, production can come from motivation or intimidation. Employees perform better when they are happy, and they are happy when they trust those in charge to have the best interests of both the company and its people at heart. Standing at the front of the parade doesn't make someone a leader. That only happens if others follow behind, and most people don't want to follow someone unless they're sure the leader knows the way.
4. Leaders guide by example.
"Do as I say, not as I do" is never the theme of a real leader. Setting corporate policy on work or lifestyle ethics is fine, but the real power comes from seeing the leaders "walking the talk." Modeling the desirable behavior and attitude and letting employees see it in action is much more likely to change behaviors than intimidating them into compliance with policies they see higher-ups ignoring. True leaders understand that success is more than the amount of assets you collect, more than the bottom line, and they consider the bigger picture when making decisions. They join in the charity drives and volunteer opportunities instead of just passing the word down, and they look for ways to improve life for their customers and their employees while still meeting their responsibilities to shareholders.
5. Leaders present solutions and delegate responsibilities.
Problems arise in every organization; it's inevitable that some ideas and innovations will fail. A leader focuses on the solutions, rather than trying to attach blame for the failure. Because a leader has the ability to read people, she surrounds herself with the right team members, people who can quickly analyze the problem and find ways to fix it. Leaders delegate tasks to those best equipped to complete them and then step back to allow their employees to accomplish what they were hired to do.
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