What It Takes To Be A Leader

by Ashley Fern

Despite popular belief, great leaders can be cultivated and developed. The one common factor that all great leaders possess is that they maintain a strong belief in something. To be successful, you need to have a deep understanding of what holds value to you. Once this is recognized, you can start to develop your beliefs and to demonstrate your values effectively. There are endless traits and characteristics that create a great leader, but certain aspects stand out more.

A great leader is often difficult to come by. He or she must have the combination of multiple abilities that elicit the best from his or her followers. While many people believe that great leaders are born, which may be true to a certain extent, certain attributes can be cultivated.

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born -- that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.”

Great leaders surround themselves with people who support them in all aspects. Creating a following is difficult because you want to find those who sustain your cause and whom wish to promote it in a similar manner to you. A frequent problem with leaders is having and maintaining a trustworthy following. You must encourage your values through your behaviors and actions. Actions speak louder than words and when the people around you see your behavior and words coincide, they will be more inclined to trust your motives.

If a leader's behavior contradicts his promises, he runs the risk of losing his followers. People do not want to follow a leader they cannot trust to fulfill his guarantees. Once trust is lost, it is nearly impossible to gain back. Trust is essential in any relationship, business or otherwise. To increase your leadership skills, you must maintain levels of trust.

“Good leaders genuinely care for and respect other people. Great leaders believe in the value of all people; that is, they believe every person has something to offer others – as such, good leaders include as many as possible in their plans. Exclusiveness breeds selfishness; inclusiveness builds unity and success. Good leaders must have the ability to build strong teams. Good teamwork is vital to the success of the organization. One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to put together a team that only reflects him/her. Strong teams possess a diversity of individuals and a wide variety of gifts.”

In addition to trust among peers, core principles are fundamental to successful leaders. If you do not have principles, how can you even hope to succeed? You need to have a clear, defined set of morals to keep your actions in check. This will promote trust within your group because people want to be led by someone whose values align with their own. A leader is nothing without his followers.

You need to be able to motivate those whom support you. This is essential for productivity, since you are only as strong as your weakest link. Making your followers feel important will encourage them to do things to the best of their abilities. If someone believes in you, then you are more likely to work hard to live up to that hype.

“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” - Theodore Roosevelt

You need to have thick skin to sustain leadership effectively. People will become jealous of your success and, as a result, go to extreme lengths to tear you down. It is crucial not to let these people get to you. Realize you have something worthwhile that needs to be protected.

A true leader has the confidence it takes to sometimes stand alone. He needs to have the courage to make tough decisions for the benefit of his group and to be prepared to take on the consequences. Confidence is key in business because if you believe what you stand for, then so will others. People can tell when you are bullsh*tting and when you truly have your heart and soul invested in something.

"Leaders who can stay optimistic and upbeat, even under intense pressure, radiate the positive feelings that create resonance. By staying in control of their feelings and impulses, they craft an environment of trust, comforts and fairness. And that self-management has a trickle down effect from the leader."

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