Suggested qualities of leadership

Studies of leadership have suggested qualities that people often associate with leadership. They include:

  • Technical/specific skill at some task at hand
  • Charismatic inspiration – attractiveness to others and the ability to leverage this esteem to motivate others
  • Preoccupation with a role – a dedication that consumes much of leaders’ life – service to a cause
  • A clear sense of purpose (or mission) – clear goals – focus – commitment
  • Results-orientation – directing every action towards a mission – prioritizing activities to spend time where results most accrue
  • Cooperation – work well with others
  • Optimism – very few pessimists become leaders
  • Rejection of determinism – belief in one’s ability to “make a difference”
  • Ability to encourage and nurture those that report to them – delegate in such a way as people will grow
  • Role models – leaders may adopt a persona that encapsulates their mission and lead by example
  • Self-knowledge (in non-bureaucratic structures)
  • Self-awareness – the ability to “lead” (as it were) one’s own self prior to leading other selves similarly
  • Awarness of environment – the ability to understand the environemt they lead in and how they affect and are affected by it
  • With regards to people and to projects, the ability to choose winners – recognizing that, unlike with skills, one cannot (in general) teach attitude. Note that “picking winners” (“choosing winners”) carries implications of gamblers’ luck as well as of the capacity to take risks, but “true” leaders, like gamblers but unlike “false” leaders, base their decisions on realistic insight (and usually on many other factors partially derived from “real” wisdom).
  • Empathy – Understanding what others say, rather than listening to how they say things – this could partly sum this quality up as “walking in someone else’s shoes” (to use a common cliché).
  • Integrity – the integration of outward actions and inner values.