Saturday, April 07, 2012

Three Key Leadership Traits

There are tons and tons of books on leadership and what makes a successful leader. It has spawned an industry of "leadership consultants" who help manufacture leaders! But, stripped of all fancy nomenclature, I believe leadership boils down to four key traits. Here they are:

All great leaders have a compelling vision of the future that they use to energize people. They can visualize something which others cannot. e.g. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela could see freedom for their people. Steve Jobs could "see" his products before even it was on the drawing board.

Vision without conviction is just a dream. Great leaders have always believed in their vision and have faced numerous odds against them. e.g. Henry Ford during his initial days of Model-T when no one believed in him. Warren Buffet, when he started his investment partnerships, when his father and his mentor both warned him against it.

People may follow someone with questionable integrity for a few days, but not for long. No one wants to follow a morally questionable character, not even those who are themselves morally questionable!! (The only exception here may be religious gurus, but that is another story in itself.)

People follow those who can execute their vision. It is very difficult to be a leader if you are only good at sermonizing and not able to get the job done. Execution is perhaps what differentiates leaders from the rest of the crowd.

You can have all the traits listed above, but without lady luck on your side, it is very difficult to be a successful leader. People attribute it to God's grace, some others call it destiny, but I call it plain good old luck. Being at the right place, at the right time with the right frame of mind.

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