8 Traits Shared by All Great Leaders

Measuring leadership was once seen as an impossible endeavor. Leadership was an intangible trait and there was really no sound way to turn such a qualitative skill into a quantitative result that could be used for developing the leaders of tomorrow.

Things have changed.

Today’s world is data driven and it was only a matter of time before the traits of an effective leader were turned a roadmap that can be used as training tools for the next generation of executives.

These skills come naturally to some, but it appears that hard work, introspection and an ability to turn weaknesses into strength through consistent effort, these skills that make a successful leader might also be taught, or learned.

Here are eight skills that some of the best leaders in the world posses.

Leaders create ”buy-in” to the company’s vision and direction.

Whether a corporate executive or a head of state, the best leaders have a way of influencing those around them buy in to their direction and ideas. Having your team on board is priceless in motivating a team and moving them toward a common goal.

Employees pull themselves out of bed and away from their families to work in your organization: great leaders create buy-in that has employees inspired to do that work.

Keep everyone on the same page by never having them wonder what your short or long terms goals are. Ensure that everyone has clear expectations, and you’ll ensure an efficient workforce.

Leaders are able to are able to predict rather than react.

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Steve Jobs predicted the need for agile and on-the-go mobile computing and entertainment devices. Bill Gates predicted that we’d one day have a personal computer in every household. Jeff Bezos predicted that he could shift the mentality of the average consumer into buying more products online.

Great leaders are able to predict trends and adapt a business in order to change to the shift in consumer demand. Average leaders are those that react to these shifts rather than seeing it coming before it happened.

Know your business, your clients, and your product inside and out. Stay on top of current trends in order to be able to predict new ones. Trade manuals, conferences and seminars are great ways to stay on top of what’s new in your industry.

Leaders react well to adversity.

Running a business isn’t all profits and bonuses. Instead, the average business has peaks and valleys just like anything else in life. The best leaders know how to adapt to adversity and change shape the perspective for others that don’t deal with it as well. Leaders aren’t just responsible for dealing with the blows that come with running a business, but also showing others effective ways of using adversity in order to improve over the long haul.

Next time you’re met with bad news, take a step back from the situation before reacting. Distance yourself and try to take a top-down view of how this affects you now, a few weeks from now, next quarter, etc. You’ll often find that the news is relatively inconsequential and it’ll improve your overall attitude and outlook.

Leaders are self-motivated.

Knowing what drives you is a key to understanding effective leadership. For some it’s money, while others desire power, to serve others, or build a legacy. None of the motivating factors in business are incorrect; the stronger leaders learn what motivates them and use it to power forward. They also identify what motivates those around them and key in on that to inspire them.

Leaders are the motivators, not the ones needing motivation.

Making clear short and long term goals, and maintaining laser focus in which to achieve them typically aids in staying motivated. If you find yourself the victim of consistent burn-out, then you might be in the wrong job, or career.

Leaders are willing to take risks in order to benefit the company’s long-term position in the market.

taking riskMany icons in the business world got to where they are by taking huge risks. Playing it safe might lead to steady profits or small growth, but the leaders that are talked about in the papers, as well as college classrooms and leadership seminars are those that put it all on the line in order to affect positive change for their company.

Now, I’m not advocating being reckless, but calculated risks in order to improve the long-term standing of your business aren’t just recommended, they’re often necessary in such a competitive business world.

Taking risks for the sake of taking risks is never ideal. Instead, find a risk that’s worth taking, and commit to it.

Leaders have the ability to contribute to the lives of others.

It’s no secret that the best leaders are also those that are willing to give the most to those around them. Zig Ziglar once said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Knowing how to positively impact the lives of those around you goes a long way in building a workforce that is motivated and driven to help not only themselves, but the company as a whole.

What’s your company’s vision and purpose for existing?

Take care to connect with your co-workers on both business and personal levels. Always let your team know that you are accessible, and that you care. This alone is often enough to contribute substantially to improving working relationships amongst team members. Help when you can, and try to point them in the right direction when you can’t.

Leaders have a firm understanding of where they are now, and where they want to be in the future.

Proactively planning the business’s place in the market sets the direction that will drive every behavior in the organization. You need to know where you are today, where you plan to be six months from now, and where the company will be in the next decade. Having a plan, as well as the self-awareness and motivation to stick to it is imperative in the business world.

Document the journey so that you know where you’ve been. Make goals for the short, mid and long term in order to plan where you’re going.

Leaders are positive and passionate. They motivate those around them to be their best.

Whether motivating a company of a dozen people or motivating a Fortune 100 business with dozens of locations and thousands of employees: it all starts with the management team. The passion (or lack thereof) of the leadership team is what models and motivates the drive (or lack thereof) of the workforce.

Great leaders are able to get the best out of those they work with. Whether it’s the charismatic and confident leader that everyone is drawn to, or the thoughtful quieter leader that people lean in to hear the wisdom from, leaders bring out the best in those around them.

A positive attitude is often infectious, and you’d be surprised at how quickly one leader can make this positivity spread throughout an office.

Today’s leaders are complicated beings, but we’re seeing more and more that many of them have share these common traits. Working to understand, and improve upon these traits can only make you a more effective leader in the future.