5 Basic Attributes of a Great Leader

I’ve been a student of leadership development for some time now and appreciate the fact that there has been a lot of great books written, studies performed, and models created.  There are a lot of talented people who share great perspectives and opinions on the topic of leadership. I have appreciated being the student of this wisdom.

I also have a lot of practical experience in this subject. I’ve created and led leadership development programs to help leaders be successful. I have worked for, observed and coached leaders with many different styles, personalities and behavior traits. In addition, I have had the privilege of being a leader for several years.

Through all the theoretical, practical and personal experiences, I think great leadership boils down to five basic attributes.

1.    They are good people

Leadership starts with authentic, well-intended people who try to set a positive example and do the right things for the right reasons. Good leadership always starts with being a good human being.

2.    They truly care about others

The adage is true; “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Leadership is operating with a servant’s heart. It is suppressing self-interest and demonstrating a genuine concern for others.

3.    They stay optimistic

Leaders rise because they sift through the problems, take on the obstacles, and meet the challenges and they do it with optimism. Their positive outlook instills hope – and hope is a powerful force to follow.

4.    They focus on the goal

Leaders help move the team forward. They don’t lose sight of what is important and help other’s see progress.

5.    They keep perspective

Through it all, they see things clearly. They don’t get bogged down in the trivial, they take time for the meaningful and celebrate the important. These are wise people who can maintain great perspective.

Through all the rhetoric around leadership effectiveness, I think these five fundamental attributes are at the core of what makes great leaders. There are likely other skills and competencies a leader should have for any given job but the foundation of great leadership can be found in these five attributes.