Traits Successful Leaders Share in Common
Regardless of industry and profession, there are certain traits that virtually all successful leaders share in common. Some people may be born with the talent to engage their followers while others may develop their skills over a lifetime of learning, but regardless there are specific characteristics that seem to propel individuals into positions of power. For many, the development of these personality traits may be the first step on the road to becoming a leader.
Always Supporting the People Below Them
Everyone, even most successful entrepreneurs, has had a supervisor that they absolutely hated. If you’ve been in an industry for more than a year, have at least one story about the archetypal evil boss, who did absolutely no work while taking credit for successes and blaming others for failures. If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t feel extremely inspired by his or her demeanor. Supporting and encouraging your team is one of the main traits that successful leaders share for this very reason.
When you support your team members you inspire them to give you their best performance. A company, at its core, is simply a collection of people. Each person is a valuable asset on the road to success. When all pistons are firing correctly, you’ll find that efficiency increases dramatically. Walmart Founder Sam Walton stated, “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”
Being Confident, Optimistic and Enthusiastic
A major portion of being a successful leader is in convincing others that you are going in a direction that they want to go in as well. Being enthusiastic and optimistic gives others the impression that you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re going, and this gives them confidence in your leadership skills and encourages them to follow you. John C. Maxwell defined a leader as an individual “…who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
Being a leader doesn’t mean being reckless, but instead taking calculated risks and acknowledging them appropriately. A leader can understand the difficulties of the road ahead without succumbing to despair or painting a bleak picture. As with many things, it’s all about the presentation. Hurdles should be seen as opportunities to work together and grow as a team in the face of adversity.
Hard Work and Ambition
Perhaps the most important quality of a successful leader is ambition. Many individuals may be talented enough or skilled enough to succeed, but they never get to where they want to be because they simply aren’t interested in doing so. Constantly striving for more is a critical component to being a leader. A leader isn’t someone who sets up camp; a leader is always on the move and improving. Any time you find yourself in a rut, you should ask yourself what could be further improved and how. There is always something that could benefit from improvement.
Apart from ambition, hard work is also essential. Leadership skills alone can only get you so far. You also need to know what you’re doing. Your employees and investors will realize if you’re all bark and no bite. It may take them a while, but eventually they will want to see results. Truly great leaders never retire. They are always in a constant process of making themselves and their product better.
Communication and Social Skills
True leaders seem to be able to look into a person’s eyes and understand them. There’s a reason for this. A leader needs to be able to identify individuals that will be positive assets to their team. They need to be able to connect with people on a higher level and convince them that their mission is a worthy one.
Of all the traits that leaders share, social skills may be one of the most difficult to develop for those that are lacking. For this reason, many successful entrepreneurs and business owners are born with a natural charisma. For those that find themselves socially reserved, however, all is not lost. Social skills, like all other skills, simply require practice. If you feel that you are lacking in this area, you should take action to expose yourself to more social activities until you no longer feel uncomfortable.
Some leaders are born, other leaders are built. Neither type of leader is necessarily any better than the other, but the best type of leader is always looking to improve and develop themselves further. By acquiring some, if not all, of the above listed traits, many people will be able to display leadership qualities even if they don’t come naturally to them. Leadership isn’t only important for entrepreneurs and business owners, it’s also of incredible use in every day life. Leaders sow the seeds of success in everything they do.