When you think of some of the best leaders of all time, who are they, and what are leadership qualities that you look for in them? What attributes did they have? If you search for the definition of the word leadership, you will see hundreds of different definitions that have been used throughout time about what a good leader does and how they are supposed to act. I have always favored the quote by John C. Maxwell who once said, “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”.
Good Leadership Traits
Influence can be used for good or for bad, depending on the intent of the leader. I want to focus on good leadership traits and great leaders that helped make the world a better place, and the attributes they possessed. Here are three key attributes to work on to maximize your leadership.
Winston Churchill is one of the most frequently quoted leaders of the 20th century. He was a master communicator by saying a lot with very few words. “The difference between mere management and leadership is communication”. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”. “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. These are three of his famous quotes that he used to inspire people to be resilient and strong during a very dark time in history. He understood that often “less is more” when it comes to communication and people can remember and rally behind a short powerful message.
To lead a group, you must have confidence in yourself, the vision, and values that you stand for. One of the greatest examples of that in the history of the world is Abraham Lincoln. Over 150 years after his death, Lincoln is still talked about for his unwillingness to bend on the principles of equal rights, unification, and liberty. He once said, “You have confidence in yourself, which is valuable, if not an indispensable quality”. Lincoln stood up for what he believed was the right thing to do, regardless of consequence or repercussions. He paid the ultimate sacrifice being assassinated but made the world a better place and will remain a legend in the history books by never compromising his values.
The simple definition of empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Being empathetic does not mean you are being weak but rather allows you to help the people that you are trying to reach. Having empathy as a leader shows that you have a genuine interest in your team members’ lives and allows you to build a relationship with them. Mother Teresa is the ultimate example of this and dedicated her life to helping those affected by poverty, disability, and disaster. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work to overcome poverty and suffering. Teresa once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them”. The Catholic Church honored her as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016.
The great part about the three attributes that these leaders possessed is they can all be developed and strengthened by anyone of us. We must be diligent in our pursuit of improving as leaders. As Simon Sinek said, “Leadership is not a license to do less. Leadership is a responsibility to do more”. The people that you influence everyday deserve you to be the best leader for them, for you, and for your cause. Being a strong leader means putting in the work to be a better communicator, build confidence, and show empathy. Don’t know where to start? Send me a message to firstname.lastname@example.org, let’s talk about how my services can help you apply the best leadership skills to your everyday life, and Let’s Go Win at Leadership today!
– JM Ryerson