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Defining a Good Leader

What characteristics does it take to be a good and effective leader?  With many of our leaders today seemingly focused more on self-interest than the greater good, it is a timely question.  A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that charisma is a good characteristic for a leader to have, but too much or too little hinders effectiveness.  Specifically they found that high charisma individuals lacked operational leadership skills, while the low charisma people lacked strategic planning skills.  The authors found that when leaders’ charisma and effectiveness were dampened, it often impacted their ability to cope with stressful situations. The researchers concluded that a mid range level of charisma produced the best leaders.

So other than charisma, what does it take to be a good leader?  Firstly, good leaders are excellent communicators who listen well, and take the time to understand others.  They are responsive and receptive to others’ input.  Successful leaders are proactive, visionary, and are committed to high standards of excellence.  They lead by example and can humble themselves to acknowledge mistakes and learn from failures.  Effective leaders are authentic, accountable, and have the ability to influence  others based on their integrity and passion.  Consistently practicing positive leadership skills requires patience, a sense of humor, and a positive attitude.  “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” —-Sam Walton

Ultimately, great leaders empower others through their words and actions.  Their energy and passion are contagious thereby motivating others to strive for greater success.  They treat everyone with the same respect and dignity they expect.  Great leaders remain constantly curious, eternally grateful, and modestly confident.  They value the people they work with and help others to be their best.  “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” —-John C. Maxwell

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