5 Things to Look for In a Leader

October 12, 2012 Permalink

Leadership. People in all areas use this word as if it were one of the most valuable traits a person can have. But what makes a good leader? You can’t be born with leadership. It has to be earned, right?

I can’t claim to be an expert on becoming a leader, because I’m young and will no doubt make a lot of mistakes on my leadership journey. But I’ve spent a lot of time studying leadership and examining it, and have had both good and bad leaders myself.

Whether a leader is at the head of a large organization, or taking charge of a small project, there are specific attributes that you can usually find in every leader. Here are some of the out-of-the-box things, aside from charisma and passion, that I think make great leadership qualities.

Patience

When it comes to leading a group of any kind, leaders will need to be infinitely patient. Leading a group or project–no matter what the size–will inevitably become a stressful process. Some people don’t want to commit, others are lazy, and many can be ignorant as hell. A leader needs to bring the best out in his or her people and that means helping them change ineffective behaviors. This naturally takes patience.

Organizational skills

From start to finish, a good leader will be at the head of the organizational process. When everything starts to fall to pieces and team members start running around like headless chickens, it is down to the leader to put everything back together again. The level of organizational skills needed will depend highly on the process that is being led. For example, someone who is leading a school trip will ultimately need to be organized enough to know the details of every class member, as well as manage an itinerary. Also, people taking part in business leadership may need organizational skills that are specially tuned for a business environment. The bottom line is, if you are not organized, you will be a pretty poor leader.

The ability to interact with anyone

In order for a leader to take charge, they will need to be able to converse and interact with anyone. No matter how frustrating a person is, how much they clash with everyone, or how ridiculous their behavior is, a good leader will need to find a common ground. I think this is all about communication, which is something a leader should excel in.

Confidence

A good leader needs to project confidence. This is one of those personality traits that can really be infectious. I know that I have been around people who were so sure of their talents that it helped me feel more secure about our project. Confidence usually comes with experience and that’s another extremely desirable trait in a leader. On the other hand, a leader that is as meek and quiet as a mouse will not inspire confidence in anyone, no matter how talented they are. When times get tough, groups often seek solace in a leader who maintains their resolve and projects a winning attitude, no matter what.

Be reliable and consistent

Even if other people are letting you down, it is important that you continue to be reliable and consistent. Doing this may also mean being flexible and taking on the roles of others when necessary. In many ways, a good leader is someone who can act as the foundation of the organization they are leading.

Leaders can be found in all walks of life, not just business. Martin Luther King was a leader. The person who makes you feel better about yourself is a leader. Anybody that pushes you to be the best you can be is also a leader, in my book.

Who are some of the examples you guys and gals look up to when it comes to leadership?

9 Comments
  • Pauline
    October 12, 2012

    While you can certainly become better at it, I think you are born with a certain personality, that makes you a good potential leader or not. I am a good second. I have lots of ideas and creativity, I can reflect a lot on how to implement my ideas, but I need someone else, a leader with better people skills to convince the rest of the team.
    I look up to someone as a leader when he can get the best out of me. Some people just shake your hand and know how to handle you, that is amazing.

  • Michelle
    October 12, 2012

    I think these are al great things to look for. Stability is a main thing for me. If the person is a hot head and switches moods every second, it’s hard to see them as a leader.

  • William @ Drop Dead Money
    October 12, 2012

    Great list. However, may I respectfully suggest it misses the main ingredient: a plan, a vision, an agenda, a purpose, a cause? The list as stated describes a good team player. But leading a group also requires a destination to lead the group to… something to follow.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules
    October 12, 2012

    Great list. I do agree that all of these play a part in being a good leader. I would also agree with William that being a visionary and having a cause are key as well. A leader needs to be able to rally the troops and having that vision helps point those they’re leading to what they’re working towards.

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More
    October 12, 2012

    I think confidence and being able to work with people of all personalities are very key. If you don’t have these to it makes it hard to lead as others wont get along with or believe in their leader.

  • Justin @ The Family Finances
    October 12, 2012

    These are all important skills for a leader to have. I work in accounting, and our corporate controller is a great leader, one I really look up to. She has all of those skills you mentioned and does a great job of making the department function better than the sum of it’s parts would indicate.

  • Money Bulldog
    October 12, 2012

    What a great post! I don’t think it’s something that can be taught. People can improve leadership skills but I feel some people are just natural leaders, like you Daisy! ;-)

  • ND Chic
    October 12, 2012

    I think the other thing that is equally important in a good leader is being open to new ideas.

  • Untemplater
    October 14, 2012

    I am a nut when it comes to organization, and I think that really helped me excel in my career because the people around me weren’t any good at it. Patience is also a big one because being in a leadership position will definitely test your patience in all sorts of ways, which I know all too well.

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