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We've all We have heard the buzz words that are used to define the term, Leadership.  We see examples, either through media or personally, of what we think leadership is or should be.  We've experienced, as called, those we identified as bad leaders and others we've reveled as good ones.  We have specific criteria we associate with good leaders, most of which are based in our world of paradigms.  Leadership is about influence.  It is about moving people, not organizations, forward while developing them to help develop others.  Leadership is about helping others transcend their own wants and desires for the greater good of others.  However, no matter what definition you place on leadership, or your self-conceived paradigm of a good leader, there are 9 commons qualities that effective leaders possess.

#1   Charisma:  Leadership is about influence.  Leaders lead people and managers lead processes.  Effective people skills, or interpersonal skills, are probably the most important quality of a good leader.  Without some form of charisma, it becomes difficult to influence others.  John Maxwell, a well-renowned speaker and author on the topic of leadership, states that "People do care how much you know until they know how much you care."  Charisma draws others closer to you.  It is here that you can influence them.

#2   Character:  There is never a right way to do a wrong thing.  Character is foremost among effective leaders.  You have to be transparent, honest, and maintain high integrity.  Since leadership is about influence, there is an amount of trust and loyalty that is presented.  Therefore, you must walk your talk.  Saying one thing and doing another decreases trust and confidence in the leader.

#3   Control:  Many want to lead others but have difficulty leading themselves.  Effective leaders demonstrate self-control. Knowing when to push and when to walk away is a solid sign of one with self-management skills.  Fighting and controlling the urges that are common at the top is crucial to leading others.  Setting a good example here is important in developing others.  If someone sees you violating your core values for the sake of convenience, trust in your ability to stick around for the tough times is diminished.

#4   Confidence:  Good leaders demonstrate a strong show of confidence, not only in themselves but also in others.  Self-efficacy is the confidence in one's ability.  It is also knowing the abilities of others and surrounding themselves with those that add value to the leader.  Your strengths are the best part of you.  Good leaders feed their strengths and manage their weaknesses.  Having a confidence in knowing the differences is important to the leader and those following.

#5   Courage:  Have you ever been around someone who talked big but fled as soon as things got tough?  Good leaders have courage to tackle the tough times.  They understand that it is in such times that their leadership is defined.  Followers are looking to you during these times.  Turning away or blaming others dismisses trust and loyalty.  You are responsible for leading.  Have the courage to battle and admit when you're wrong.

#6   Commitment:  Good leaders are committed to the cause.  Such a cause is a priority and is kept at the forefront of everything they do.  They understand the big-picture and are committed to the better future.  Good leaders are also committed to their followers.  They understand that it is these that provide them with the honor.  When times get tough, good leaders stay the course.  They develop plans and fight in the middle with their followers.

#7   Consistency:  Have you ever worked for someone that changed with the wind?  Every time a new fad came along, he or she would change?  Or have you every been told one time to do something a certain way and when you did it, the leader changed the requirement, or told you to do something one way and told someone else to do it another?  Good leader are consistent.  They possess a consistent level of congruency that helps keep people grounded.  Doing so creates confidence in the leader.  Followers know what to expect and how to plan.  However, this doesn't mean that you treat everyone the same, which is myth.

#8   Creativity:  Good leaders are creative.  They think outside of box and push the boundaries.  They refuse to be comfortable with the status-quo and ask questions as to why things are as they exist.  They see things that aren't there as if they were and inspire others to pursue their dreams.  Good leaders create and cast vision (something that does not presently exist), which helps others grow and develop.  Some call leaders' creativity daydreaming.  However, Walt Disney saw the theme park long before he told others.  They thought he was a daydreamer with unrealistic expectations.  Steve Jobs changed how we listen to music by creativity and accepting nothing but excellence.

#9   Communication:  Have you every worked closely with someone that you were continually trying to figure out what they were thinking or wanted?  Good leaders are excellent communicators.  They understand that people will excel when they understand where they are going.  Communicating the good, bad, and the ugly is necessary to develop trust, transparency, and loyalty.  It's important that you communicate regularly about where you are, where you are going, and how you plan to get there. Just as in your personal relationships, not communicating enhances suspicion.  Be open with your followers.

Leadership is about influence.  We've known good ones and some bad ones.  There are many theories of leadership but these core qualities are consistent among good leaders.

 How many of these do you strive for daily?  

How would your followers grade you on these 9 qualities?  

Take a personal inventory and take your leadership to the next level.

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