In any sort of organization, there are critical traits or behaviors that translate to successful leadership.
Be Courageous. It has often been said that courage is not the lack of fear, but the ability to face fear and overcome it. Rudolph Giuliani has said that courage is the management of fear. Leaders will face problems and worse and cannot allow crisis to incapacitate them.
Prepare and Grow. Change is the only constant in life so the sands are continually shifting. Leaders must prepare and grow with those changes. They must continually study, attain relevant knowledge, and plan for every contingency. No matter what they are leading or managing, their ultimate success will be determined in part by they and their team’s preparedness.
Build a Great Team. The effective leader intimately understands and appreciates that any organizational success is the result of a team and no individual. The effective leader will recruit and foster teamwork among many different skill sets and perspectives with the more talent and diversity the better. When each team member is operating from a position of focus (not fear) and also understanding of how they affect their “internal” as well as “external” customers, they will be in a much stronger position.
Be an Optimist. Everyone can choose to be an optimist or a pessimist – to see the best in people or the worst in any moment. Look throughout history and you will discover that every great leader from Lincoln, Ghandhi, Churchill, to Martin L. King, Jr, and Mandella, they and most others shared an optimistic viewpoint. People gravitate toward and stay with optimistic leaders. Leaders also understand that not everyone will agree with them so they must be prepared for criticism and not take it personally.
Communicate Effectively. Leadership is all about influencing others and no amount of talent, intellect, or motivation will overcome poor communications. Communicating effectively means using the right tone, the proper media, appropriate time and message so that it is clearly understood. In both written and verbal communications, people communicate differently so a leader must be aware of their audience and adjust accordingly.
Know What You Believe In and Live It! An effective leader clearly understands their core values, objects, and important beliefs. Every eye is constantly on the leader so that person must become the living embracement of such if you want others to follow. They live their convictions and lead with integrity. As Margaret Thatcher once said, “Chart your course and know the values which will lead you through the future.”
There are many more attributes or characteristics of effective leadership, but if one embraces the above, they will vastly increase their chance for becoming and remaining a successful leader.