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What makes a leader a leader?

19 March 2015
3 minute read

what makes a true leader

Natural leaders are a breed apart. Their success and ability to inspire have nothing to do with the cars they drive, the clothes they wear or the jewels they flash, but rather with the way they behave. Leadership isn’t something that they’ve achieved and then lived off the spoils.

Their capability, competence and insight drive them to keep reaching new heights and doing extraordinary new things. Fortunately, success and leadership skills can be learnt. To inspire you, here are ten of the behaviour traits that many business leaders have in common.

1. They think beyond innovationTrue leaders will always try to find ways of doing new and better things rather than just improving on the same old stuff. Steve Jobs took Apple from being a computing company to a telecommunications and music giant because he had the vision to think beyond what was in front of him.

2. They stay abreast of news and trendsWhat do Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Barack Obama all have in common? They all start their day by reading the news. No leader lives in a bubble.

3. They are not preoccupied with titles and qualificationsBill Gates and Steve Jobs famously dropped out of college. Here is Time magazine’s list of the top ten dropouts of all time. Success, leadership and vision are not dependent on qualifications or titles and true leaders know this. There is nothing Richard Branson hates more than being told, “You’re the boss.” He wants people to disagree and to present their own ideas.

4. They work hardAlthough they might not have a degree, great leaders are not afraid of hard work. In fact, they often dropped out of college to get on with their big ideas. While they do try to achieve a work-life balance (and some of them even succeed), they’re also the first in, the last to leave and often keep working from their homes.

5. They love what they doLeaders do what they love and love what they do. By being fully invested in their work and their working relationships, they are spurred to keep growing and developing. They work hard because for them, there’s often no place they would rather be. And their enjoyment has a trickle down affect – others are inspired and motivated by them.

6. They are communicatorsGreat leaders know that to get the best out of everyone around them, they need to communicate clearly. They make a point of being present and focused when they are spending time with others. They know how to clearly explain what they want or need and listen to the wants and needs of others.

7. They see the bigger pictureWhile leaders pay attention to the small details, they are not bogged down by them. They never lose sight of the bigger picture that they are working towards.

8. They have faith in othersRome wasn’t built in a day and it certainly wasn’t built by a single Roman. Modern-day Caesars know that they need the support of vast teams of colleagues, employees and associates. They are happy to let others do the work that they are good at.

9. They have integrityTrue leaders are decent human beings. When you get right down to it, people are more impressed by humility, compassion and warmth than they are by wealth and success. Leaders who have made their way to the top have done so without trampling on others and they often take others up with them. They care about their employees, their neighbours and their planet.

10. They take risksLeaders know that true success, invention and inspiration lie in breaking boundaries, smashing boxes and scaling new heights. Leaders think hard and long, but they never err on the side of caution.

The leader in youNot all leaders display all of these characteristics all of the time but by reading through this list you should get a picture of how they think and operate. If you want to become a leader, an entrepreneur or even just a small-time success at something you really love, identify which of these traits are your strong suits and start working on getting them to work for you.

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