15 Sep The Most Important Leadership Traits Not Taught in the Classroom
As the world pushes for better leadership, it also pushes for mediocrity within our leaders. We want people to conform to our image of a leader. Education, training, and leadership books contribute not to the emergence of great leaders, but to ensuring that all rising leaders think the same, act the same, and do the same in all situations. This is not leadership, but management. Many people “lead” groups, large and small, but few people are leaders. In fact, sometimes, the best leader is not the person in the leading position.
The best leadership embraces individuality: for the leader and the people being lead. While conformity is essential in the business world, the great leader will find ways to operate successfully through established policies, procedures, and objectives using unique and innovative methods. In short, great leaders will operate as expected when needed, but they will also take appropriate risks and seek out opportunities for greater success. What they apply to being a leader seldom is taught in a classroom.
Humility – Great leaders will never ask their team to do something that they are not willing to do themselves. Often, they are out in the trenches alongside their team assisting in the current task. They are not overseers, but active participants. They also look for opportunities to give credit to their teams.
Dedication – Great leaders are wholeheartedly dedicated to the team and what they are doing. They care about their people and they are committed to getting the job done.
Wisdom – Leaders will be asked to make decisions, but making wise decisions can be elusive. Wisdom operates when having to make a decision between two good or two bad options, and stand by that decision confidently.
Vision – Many leadership classes will talk extensively on vision, but they seem to fail in getting students to understand the value of communicating vision. Poor leaders do not have a clear vision, they attach themselves to another person’s vision, or they fail to share the vision with their team.
Diligence – Despite the importance of vision, great leaders understand the need for results. Specifically, they know that diligent application of required tasks each and every day will ensure desired results can be obtained: allowing the team to move forward in the vision.
Responsibility – Want to find out who the real leader is in an organization? Find out who takes responsibility when things go wrong. The best leaders will confidently take responsibility for all matters within their control. If the matter occurs outside their control, they take control until they can find the right person who has responsibility.
Council – Great leaders seek the advice of others – mentors, peers and employees. They understand their own strengths and weaknesses. They seek advice not as a last hope effort, but regularly for even the most mundane issues.
Customer-driven – Leaders are often asked to be inspiring, but will do leaders get their inspiration: usually from the people they are inspiring. Leaders are mindful to watch for and seek the inspiration in customers and employees. An idea, suggestion, or opinion can occur in the smallest form and leaders will nurture and grow that into something worth noting.
Quietness – The best leaders are not boisterous, but quiet. They observe, listen, and contemplate; then they speak. When they do speak, they get right to the point. Then they observe and listen again.
Rest – The greatest leaders understand the value of balance and rest. They understand that the harder you work, the more rest that is required: not just sleep, but play, nutrition, and family. The harder they push their employees, the more great leaders will push to provide balance for those employees.
Management is relatively easy. The hard part is actually being a leader. While training will push everyone to be a leader, few will actually be successful as leaders and great leaders are a rarity. The traits presented in this article cannot be taught in a book or a classroom, but are intrinsic and developed over time. They require a person who is highly self-aware, always self-improving and willing to make mistakes along the way.