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Are leaders born? Are they made through years of experience and hard work? Or maybe they could be either.
Some people are born with innate leadership skills. Others develop these skills as they go through life. Regardless of how people become leaders, we know that each one of them is unique. Every leader has their style developed through life experiences. These styles vary depending on their values, behaviors, and environment.
While there is no single embodiment of an effective leader, all leaders share these common traits.
Leaders have integrity.
Integrity is an essential trait for leaders which enables them to earn the trust of others. Leaders exhibit integrity by always doing what is right even if it is an unpopular decision.
They give proper credit for accomplishments and acknowledge their mistakes when they happen. They exhibit honesty and transparency in everything they do. Moreover, they inspire others to live a life with integrity as well.
Leaders have moral courage.
Leaders must have the courage to stand up for their convictions regardless of criticism, ridicule, or dissent. They must have the moral courage to inspire respect from those they lead. They should also be able to take responsibility for their actions.
Leaders are visionaries.
A trait that sets leaders apart from others is their ability to gauge the future and secure their place in it. Leaders understand that the world is continuously changing and take steps to evolve along with those changes.
They make clear goals to adapt to the future and implement strategies to remain agile. They have sufficient drive and initiative to maintain this clear vision and focus on putting it to reality.
Leaders are passionate.
Passion enables leaders to achieve great things. Leaders know their purpose in life and are driven by passion to pursue this purpose. Not only that, but their passion also ignites other people’s passions and fuel their desire to succeed in whatever they do.
Leaders exhibit self-control.
Leaders have strict personal discipline in their behaviors and lifestyle which require self-control. This self-control enables them to stay motivated and focused on their goals. It also allows them to incorporate new ideas without getting distracted from their main objectives.
Leaders exude optimism.
Most people are drawn to those who have upbeat and positive attitudes. Leaders who display such positive attitudes have an optimistic view of life and are more effective at inspiring others.
They always expect the best outcome even when they are prepared for the worst ones. They see opportunities and possibilities in every situation, even in undesirable ones.
Leaders are effective communicators.
Leaders set forth missions, establish direction, shape goals, clarify tasks, and reinforce values. Because they instruct, motivate, and discipline people, they need to have excellent communication skills. They must be adept in both verbal and written communication.
They must also be aware that they communicate non-verbally through their attitudes and body language. This enables them to make an emotional connection with others that is critical in effective leadership.
Leaders foster creativity.
It takes creativity to set goals and lead people. Moreover, good leaders are also able to foster these traits in the people they lead. They encourage people to be creative in doing tasks, giving them free rein in accomplishing their goals. They are open to innovative ideas and motivate others to put these ideas to work.
Leaders empower others.
True leaders strive to empower others and not merely have power over them. They have the ability to train and develop others. Instead of micro-managing, they trust the people they lead to make the right decisions to achieve their objectives. They empower others to act independently.
Leaders learn from others.
Great leaders never stop learning. They learn from their experiences and the experiences of others. They are not afraid to ask questions and always remain curious. They know that they are not omniscient and that they needn’t be one at all. Leaders have the willingness to learn and see things from a different perspective.
These are some of the traits that effective leaders possess. Do you embody these traits? Are you ready to be a more effective and inspiring leader?
Let these quotes motivate and empower you to be the best leader that you can be.
- “It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward
- “It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” – Adlai E. Stevenson
- “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.” – Margaret Thatcher
- “Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
- “Great leaders create more leaders, not followers.” – Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
- “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” – Ronald Reagan
- “Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” – John Maxwell
- “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.” – Dolly Parton
- “Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” – Tina Fey, Bossypants
- “Power isn’t control at all — power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” – Beth Revis, Across the Universe
- “Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men — the other 999 follow women.” – Groucho Marx
- “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker, Essential Drucker
- “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George S. Patton
- “A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” – Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
- “A man can only lead when others accept him as their leader, and he has only as much authority as his subjects give to him. All of the brilliant ideas in the world cannot save your kingdom if no one will listen to them.” – Brandon Sanderson, The Well of Ascension
- “You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others…” – Gordon B. Hinckley
- “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.” – Aristotle
- “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” – John F. Kennedy, Undelivered remarks for Dallas Trade Mart, November 22, 1963
- “A leader is a dealer in hope.” – Napoleon Bonaparte
- “In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In
- “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer
- “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
- “He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.” – Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
- “If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.” – Tom Peters, Thriving on Chaos
- “I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.” – Robert E. Lee
- “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong.” – Abraham Lincoln
- “Being a leader is making the people you love hate you a little more each day.” – Patrick Ness, The Ask and the Answer
- “The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Colin Powell
- “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” – Ken Blanchard
- “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
- “There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.” – Klaus Balkenhol
- “We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” – Whoopi Goldberg
- “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” – Harry S. Truman
- “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt
- “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” – Woodrow Wilson
- “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter
- “Leaders live by choice, not by accident.” – Mark Gorman
- “The best form of saying is being.” – Che Guevarra
- “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help to orchestrate the energy of those around you.” – Peter F. Drucker
- “If you really want the key to success, start by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.” – Brad Szollose
- “The first key to leadership is self-control.” – Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
- “’Give as few orders as possible,’ his father had told him once long ago. ‘Once you’ve given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject.’” – Frank Herbert, Dune
- “Some leaders are born women.” – Geraldine Ferraro
- “And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” – Anonymous, Holy Bible: New International Version
- “The most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
- “A sign of power in a man is not only when people follow what he suggests, but also when people make a conscious effort to do the exact opposite of what he suggests.” – Criss Jami, Killosophy
- “If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead. Even the highest mountain had animals that step on it.” – Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
- “A general never shows despair. He instills confidence in his troops. He leads them forward, even into the mouth of death.” – Rick Riordan, The Throne of Fire
- “Men love women who are courageous for it means they can go all the way with him in his pursuit of his good dreams and intentions.” – Agu Jaachynma N.E.
- “Come forward as servants of Islam, organize the people economically, socially, educationally and politically and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody.” – Muhammad Ali Jinnah
- “Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change you believe in.” – Seth Godin, Tribes
- “Leaders always choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong.” – Orrin Woodward
- “I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.” – Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand
- “Always remember, Son, the best boss is the one who bosses the least. Whether it’s cattle, or horses, or men; the least government is the best government.” – Ralph Moody
- “Real leadership is being the person others will gladly and confidently follow.” – John C. Maxwell
- “True leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up.” – Sheri L. Dew, Saying It like It Is
- “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” – Tony Blair
- “Even if it’s your dog, you’ve got authority over somebody. Start treating him better.” – Joyce Meyer
- “No matter how tiny you look, you can lead huge men if you have what the huge men don’t have.” – Michael Bassey Johnson
- “Always hear others out and remain open-minded; the day you think you know everything is the day you have the most yet to learn.” – A.J. Darkholme, Rise of the Morningstar
- “Do you know great minds enjoy excellence, average minds love mediocrity and small minds adore comfort zones?” – Onyi Anyado
- “Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way.” – Ronald Reagan
- “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” – Henry Kissinger
- “Man wants to be the king o’ the rabbits, he best wear a pair o’ floppy ears.” – George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons
- “Each day you are leading by example. Whether you realize it or not or whether it’s positive or negative, you are influencing those around you.” – Rob Liano
- “I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?” – Benjamin Disraeli
- “A leader must lead. Where others see obstacles, he must see opportunities. When others see problems, he must see possibilities…Civilization is not built on a negation but on an affirmation – an affirmation of the bright and promising possibilities that the future holds for those who are enterprising enough to pursue them.” – David J. Vaughan, Give Me Liberty
- “Leaders in all realms and activities of life knew that the power they had come to hold existed because they were responsible to serve the many, thus power was position of service.” – Vanna Bonta, Flight
- “Great leaders have three things; inner light, inner vision and inner strength.” – Amit Ray
- “Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.” – Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
- “The ruler attains wholeness in the correct governance of the people.” – Lao Tzu
- “FOCUS = Follow On Course Until Successful.” – Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha
- “Tis skill, not strength, that governs a ship” – Thomas Fuller
- “I would not be a Moses to lead you into the Promised Land, because if I could lead you into it, someone else could lead you out of it.” – Eugene V Debs
- “Sheep are always looking for a new shepherd when the terrain gets rocky.” – Karen Marie Moning, Iced
- “No great manager or leader ever fell from heaven, it’s learned not inherited.” – Tom Northup
- “Real men don’t dance to other people’s tune; instead, they play for others to dance.” – Michael Bassey Johnson
- “Taking charge of your own learning is a part of taking charge of your life, which is the sine qua non in becoming an integrated person.” – Warren Bennis
- “We need an assembly, not for cleverness, but for setting things straight.” – William Golding, Lord of the Flies
- “Leadership is never an avenue to be self-serving but, a platform to render great service to people.” – Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha
- “Most people don’t care who’s in charge as long as someone is.” – Tanya Huff, Nights of the Round Table and Other Stories of Heroic Fantasy
- “Great leaders get people to admit the truth because they know that dreams are buried under the lies they tell themselves, in order to feel okay with giving up.” – Shannon L. Alder
- “Real leaders are people who help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.” – David Foster Wallace
- “It is absolutely necessary…for me to have persons that can think for me, as well as execute orders.” – George Washington
- “Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.” – Robert Half
- “The body fades. A leader who would last relies on more.” – N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season