February 2020 “Characteristics of Leadership”
Since time immemorial, leaders have guided humanity through its struggle for survival. A leader shows us a ray of light in darkness, makes our future brighter and life much simpler; he or she brings hope and happiness in our life. This is the optimistic view of a leader and this newsletter will focus on the positive influence of a leader keeping in mind that we all know that a charismatic leader can also be a dangerous one based on their belief systems and those of their followers.
What are the characteristics of leadership; people often wonder. Why is it that someone is a leader and someone else a follower? It has been observed that a leader possesses certain qualities which are markedly different from the common masses or those who do not want to lead. While the common man or woman gets entangled in their routine life, the leaders often overcome these difficulties and decide to bring radical changes in the environment in which they live.
There are two kinds of people in this world, proactive and reactive. Reactive people give vent to their anger whereas proactive people think for the future and try to find lasting solutions to any problem(s) and generally have a positive attitude. When Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of the train, he didn’t react at that moment but instead he devised a strategy, which threw the British out of India forever, indeed a lasting solution. Being proactive is considered one of the most important characteristics of leadership.
Having the capability of taking on tough decisions is considered an important characteristic of leadership. Being tough and or strong also means having the ability to withstand peoples’ ire. Sometimes some decisions are unpopular or have vision beyond the here and now, but one needs to take it for the overall benefit of the people, which might be essential for a better future. A leader should demonstrate tremendous courage and stamina during that challenging period as well as not caring who takes credit for a job well done as long as it gets done.
A leader is always focused towards their goal(s). They exhibit complete dedication towards their work and demonstrate tremendous self-confidence. A leader is not fickle minded. He or she is determined; their communication with people is very effective. A leader never gets carried away by emotions. Their emotional quotient is exemplary and they never make decisions based on their whims and fancies. They are the personification of enthusiasm. He or she creates positive energy around their surroundings, energizing everyone around them. In fact, people take great pleasure in working with such people.
The ability to motivate others is a vital characteristic of leadership. Anyone devoid of this characteristic should not even dream of becoming a leader. Vacillating or waiting for consciences is not part of the definition of a true leader. People stick to a leader because they find such a leader to be motivational. Once people get motivated, they stick to and work tirelessly for their leaders, helping them achieve their goals and objectives. If people are not motivated by a leader, then why will they follow?
In life there is an up and a down, a plus and a minus but nonetheless a constant struggle of nature; this will never change. Leaders struggle with this constantly and even to some degree have a bit of a dark side that must be overcome on a daily basis. Those that overcome to do good tend to be incredible, strong individuals and we all know what happens to leaders when they can’t overcome the struggles of life.
It is believed that certain characteristics of leadership are by birth, similar to the color of our eyes and hair passed down by our parents through the great gene pool. Someone is a born orator; someone is a born singer and someone is a born writer. True to a certain extent, but it is also true that there is nothing in this world which cannot be achieved by hard work. Mahatma Gandhi started exhibiting his leadership traits when he was a young man, and surprisingly Colonel Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken and spread his franchise across the United States when he was in his sixties. Sam Walton, although he’d owned a small chain of discount stores, opened the first true Wal-Mart in 1962 when he was 44. So, there’s nothing that can’t be learned.
Apathy is a choice; don’t make it! What kind of LEADER will you be?
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- James R. Ball