[STM 21] Leadership & Its Attributes

leaderLeaders never stop growing and developing. They have the capacity to keep themselves from falling into a comfort zone. They are lifelong students.

The great Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes, once said that there are three types of people: the people who make things happen, the people who watch what’s happening, and the people who haven’t the slightest idea of what’s happening. Today, as never before, our society is experiencing a pressing need for great leadership.

This need for leadership can be felt in our homes, in our business organizations, in our private and public associations, and in our government. We need great leadership more than ever before. And we especially need great leadership to take us into the future. We need people who have key leadership traits, they have a vision, courage, and the ability to chart new seas and break new ground.


Leadership is the single most important factor in the success or failure of any business. Leaders are primarily self-made . . . they continually work to improve their skills and become more capable. In order to be successful in business, we need great leaders with two types of leadership traits.

  1. The first type of leader that we need is the transformational leader. This leader is a pathfinder, a visionary. These types of leadership traits motivate, uplift, inspire, and empower people to perform at levels far beyond anything they’ve ever done before.
  2. The second type of leader we need is perhaps the most important or foundational. They are the transactional leader. The transactional leader is the person who gets things done with and through others.


One of the major reasons that people go to work for any organization is because of the leadership. So what exactly is great leadership? Two excellent definitions of leadership apply especially to business organizations. The first one is: Great Leadership is the ability to elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people. Another definition is: Great Leadership is the ability to get followers.


Leaders can be made if not born. A person becomes a leader by, first of all, deciding to become a leader, and second of all, by learning the skills necessary to “elicit extraordinary performance from ordinary people.”

Then at the very top are those 1 or 2 percent of people in our society who really are the spark plugs in the engines of change. Every one of us is on that scale somewhere, moving up or down depending upon the things that we are doing and saying on a daily basis. You are what you think you are. Your self-concept determines your performance. You can become a much more effective leader by changing your self-concept, by changing the way you think about yourself as a leader.


The starting point of developing great leadership traits is to begin thinking about the leaders you know, who you admire, and then to think about how you could emulate their behaviors. Think about the types of leadership that you could develop. In no time at all, you will actually begin to imitate their qualities and behaviors, and become a better leader yourself.

All great leaders were at one time good followers. All great leaders at one time worked closely with other successful leaders and learned from them and emulated their behaviors. The study of great leaders of the past and present is one of the fastest and surest ways to develop leadership traits and qualities. The more you study what constitutes great leadership, the more likely you will be to internalize the same values and behaviors. These values and behaviors will then be externalized in your actions and in your results.



Great leaders have vision. They can see into the future. They have a clear, exciting idea of where they are going and what they are trying to accomplish and are excellent at strategic planning.

This quality separates them from managers. Having a clear vision turns the individual into a special type of person. This quality of vision changes a “transactional manager” into a “transformational leader.” While a manager gets the job done, great leaders tap into the emotions of their employees.


“Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend.” (Winston Churchill)

The quality of courage means that you are willing to take risks in the achievement of your goals with no assurance of success. Because there is no certainty in life or business, every commitment you make and every action you take entails a risk of some kind.


The core of integrity is truthfulness. Integrity requires that you always tell the truth, to all people, in every situation. Truthfulness is the foundation quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any business.


Great leaders are those who are strong and decisive but also humble. Humility doesn’t mean that you’re weak or unsure of yourself. It means that you have the self-confidence and self-awareness to recognize the value of others without feeling threatened. It means that you are willing to admit you could be wrong, that you recognize you may not have all the answers. And it means that you give credit where credit is due.

You learn how to listen, and admit that you don’t know all the answers. You exhibit the attitude that you can learn from anyone at any time. Your pride doesn’t get in the way of gathering the information you need to achieve the best results. It doesn’t keep you from sharing the credit that needs to be shared. Humility allows you to acknowledge your mistakes.”

You exhibit the attitude that you can learn from anyone at any time. Your pride doesn’t get in the way of gathering the information you need to achieve the best results. It doesn’t keep you from sharing the credit that needs to be shared. Humility allows you to acknowledge your mistakes.”


Great leaders are outstanding at strategic planning. They have the ability to look ahead, to anticipate with some accuracy where the industry and the markets are going.

Leaders have the ability to anticipate trends, well in advance of their competitors. They continually ask, “Based on what is happening today, where is the market going? Where is it likely to be in three months, six months, one year, and two years?” through thoughtful strategic planning.

Because of increasing competitiveness, only the leaders and organizations that can accurately anticipate future markets can possibly survive. Only leaders with foresight can gain the “first mover advantage.”


Your ability to get everyone working and pulling together is essential to your success. Leadership is the ability to get people to work for you because they want to.

The 80/20 rule applies here. Twenty percent of your people contribute 80 percent of your results. Your ability to select these people and then to work well with them on a daily basis is essential to the smooth functioning of the organization.

Gain the cooperation of others by making a commitment to get along well with each key person every single day. You always have a choice when it comes to a task: You can do it yourself, or you can get someone else to do it for you. Which is it going to be?


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