Defining what makes a good leader is hard. Great leaders have certain qualities that are difficult to identify and pin down, begging the question: Why do people follow them? Often, the answer has to do with an indescribable “it” factor -- a charisma that attracts others to them.
While charisma is something that seems innate to leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi and former president Barack Obama, Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire told Forbes that charisma is 50 percent innate and 50 percent trained.Similarly, blogger Seth Godin told NPR that, “Charisma doesn't cause you to become a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic.”
By understanding the characteristics that successful leaders have in common, you can work to develop your own charisma and become a better leader in your organization. Here are the five qualities that all great leaders possess:
Leaders have powerful personalities that people are drawn to. Much of that attraction stems from the fact that they exude confidence. Confident leaders have a strong sense of self and rarely express self-doubt. They understand who they are and are comfortable in their own skin.
Charismatic leaders are also optimists. They see the glass as half full instead of half empty and are always looking on the bright side. As Ralph Marston, owner of the website The Daily Motivator, wrrote on Twitter, “Being positive in a negative situation is not naive. It's leadership.”
To be a stronger leader, you need to practice self-confidence. If you’re always second-guessing yourself and feeling shy around your coworkers, they won’t follow you. If you aren’t confident about your own actions, who will be?
Charismatic leaders think outside the box and aren’t afraid to push the limits. While others may see this kind of push as risky, these leaders are the ones leading the way and driving innovation.
When a problem arises, leaders don’t see only the difficulties. Instead, they rise to the challenge and see it as an opportunity. In business, this creativity can lead to powerful change and transformation, which can inspire and motivate others.
In his book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't, Simon Sinek wrote: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Because leaders value innovation, they are focused on the future and how they can improve it. They have a dream and direction that motivates and inspires others. A report from Universum revealed that 41 percent of executives polled said the top quality they looked for in future leaders is the ability to empower employees.
In his book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Sinek wrote “Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.”
How can you improve things at your organization? Share your ideas with others. When you have vision, others will take note.
Vision, in fact, becomes the drive and main purpose for many leaders. Everything they do revolves around making their vision a reality. To achieve their dream, leaders set specific goals and work to achieve them by bringing their teams together, developing an organized strategy and working hard.
Leaders are focused on getting results and accomplishing what they set out to do. They don’t give up when things get tough. Instead, they push through and continue even when they encounter challenges.
Are you committed to your goals? Your hard work and determination can inspire others if you follow through on your goals.
When leaders speak, they communicate with confidence and charisma, which makes people sit up and pay attention. They are clear and articulate with their words and ensure that each statement has a purpose.
Leaders are also aware of their body language. They have good posture and maintain eye contact with the people they are talking to. They are comfortable speaking in front of large groups as well as one on one. No matter what the situation, they articulate their goals and vision.
In his book, Managing People Is Like Herding Cats, leadership scholar Walter Bennis wrote, “Good leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens, people feel centered, and that gives their work meaning.”
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