What makes a good leader?
According to John Maxwell, before people buy into a vision, concept or a thought, they buy into their leader. Lao Tzu, when talking about leaders said that a leader could be considered the best when his team barely knew he existed, so much so that when the leader’s work is done, team members feel they did it themselves. And this precisely is what describes good leaders.
Good leaders concentrate on growing others, rather than just growing themselves. Success for such a leader comes when his team members achieve their goals. To learn what makes a good leader, let’s go back and learn from some good leaders in history.
What history teaches us about good leader:
What do Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mao Zedong, Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill or even Adolf Hitler have in common? They were all great leaders who could teach you the art of being a good leader. You may be wondering how Adolf Hitler could make the list. Adolf Hitler a good person? No. Adolf Hitler a good leader? Yes.
Let us learn the essential criteria of being a good leader that these great leaders from history can teach us.
- Good leaders are good visionaries
- They are patient and show tolerance, resilience
- They are humble, accountable and compliant
- They have an ambition, and courage to follow the ambition
Vision is what separates good leaders from the rest. George Washington’s vision of America has endured for over 200 years and he was a true visionary. So were Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi , Nelson Mandela and other leaders we talked about before.
Good leaders use patience as a virtue. They let things run in their due course of time and you’ll never find a good leader losing motivation or leaving hopes of achieving a particular goal that is taking long to reach and start the pursuit of another.
Another attribute of good leaders is the tolerance they show towards their team members. Good leaders understand that their team members are unique individuals who perform best when they have reasonable freedom to utilize their own approach to achieve a goal. Good leaders are flexible in their approach and keep room for changes and negotiations. Their resilience allows them to change with the changing times or situations.
Good leaders are humble and they are accountable. A good leader gives credit and takes blame. He makes loud, clear and frequent appreciations for his team members individually, but never shames an individual publicly for failure.
To ensure sustainability of his team’s efforts towards achieving goals, he plays by the rules and follows a respectable and orderly code of conduct.
And finally good leaders possess both a powerful ambition and a courageous and dedicated spirit to strive for achieving success in their goals. They lead boldly and courageously, even in testing circumstances and situations. Mahatma Gandhi led thousands of people in Dandi March in face of arrest and assault by police. Fidel Castro, Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln were all fearless fighters and courageous leaders who lead a large number of people during civil wars, independence struggles, revolutions, social movements etc. good leaders take charge without fear and apprehensions.
Can you become a good leader too?
Yes you can! While some may be blessed with leadership qualities from birth, it is always possible for the rest of us to cultivate them. Begin by assessing the overall goals of your team as well as any individual goals your team members may have. Next, choose virtues of good leaders from history mentioned above, according to their relevance to your situation.
Additionally, keep in mind the following points –
- Care less about your own success
- Your main task is to be an enabler and not the boss
- Do meticulous research before planning
- Show guts under pressure – your confidence is directly related to your team’s confidence
- Improve your people skills – learn to communicate effectively, listen actively, and understand correctly.
- Use humour, keep your team members engaged and motivated.
Maintain high personal ethics, be creative, be charming and enthusiastic and lead your team with full confidence in your vision and its execution.
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