5 Virtues of a Great Leader

August 16, 2013 by

People in positions of power can sometimes cajole us into doing their bidding, but there is little chance we’ll do our best work for them. 

We want to follow great leaders.

It is when we find a great leader to follow, that we perform to our potential. 

We usually gravitate to leaders who demonstrate quality of character, over ones who demonstrate specific skill sets. This is why the team captain is not always the best goal-kicker, and why the CEO may not be the best financial analyst.

Reflecting on the best leaders I know, both the famous and the unsung, I have compiled a list of 5 virtues they all demonstrate.

I believe that these 5 virtues are what set great leaders apart by making us want to follow them.

When a leader demonstrates these virtues, they are more likely to lead a consenting, effective, responsive, and engaged team.

Integrity – an honesty of spirit and story.

A leader with integrity walks the talk. A leader with integrity is honest and real. She shares her flaws, is open about her personal story, is accountable for her actions, and lives the values she preaches. She is consistent, and not afraid to admit her mistakes.

Courage – bravery in the face of fear.

A courageous leader embraces change. A courageous leader is willing to stand up for what is right, no matter the cost. A leader with courage backs herself and her team, even when the going gets tough. A leader with courage takes calculated risks, tries new things, and charts new territory.

Enthusiasm – inspired, positive, and eager.

An enthusiastic leader oozes contagious inspiration. A leader with enthusiasm allows her team to get excited about the purpose of their work. She engages her team, and shares with them her excitement for the future.

Trust – trusting and trustworthy.

A trustworthy leader always does her best. She keeps her word. And she follows through on her commitments.

A trusting leader lets her team play to their strengths. She encourages initiative. She allows innovation. She trusts her team to do their best.

When a leader is trusting and demonstrates her trustworthiness, she will most often be rewarded by the trust of her team. Her team will trust her best intentions, will return her honesty, and will more actively engage in the work at hand.

Humility – thoughtful and willing to serve.

The humble leader considers every member of the team as important as herself. She is thoughtful of others’ needs and willing to be of service. She does not expect perfection from herself or others, but she does expect to learn from mistakes.

When the humble leader achieves success, she is grateful instead of boastful. When the humble leader’s job is done, her team says, “we did it ourselves”.

What have I missed? What do you think is the most important virtue of leadership?

Categories: Communication, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Personal accountability, Personal Development, Toby Newstead, Uncategorized

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