We’ve come a long way from the outdated views of the past that dictated that the best leaders came from the children of other leaders. We have learned to accept that there are no “born leaders,” and that the skills required to become a leader can be learned. But how far does that go? Is it a simple case of “Anyone can become a leader,” or is there more to it than that?
In this article, we’ll explore whether leaders are born or made – or something in between. Read on to learn more!
What Do Successful Leaders Have in Common?
Forbes is an undeniable authority in the realm of leadership, and according to an article on their website written by bestselling author Deep Patel, there are 11 key qualities that all leaders share. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of those qualities.
1. Ability to manage self
Leaders grow up being the kids who complete the school project while everyone else is flaking out. Leaders know how to prioritize and take responsibility for their goals while being mindful of their time. They can handle stressful situations well and stay self-controlled.
2. Exceptional communication skills
Leaders must communicate effectively on many levels. They need to master clarity when communicating goals and know when to listen. Team members feel heard and understood when they’re under great leadership.
3. Ability to think strategically
Leaders don’t think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and are continually working to re-strategize in light of new information. They are open-minded and welcome new ideas from their team members. They stay on top of industry trends and have a positive attitude that’s energizing.
4. Forming clear goals and working to achieve them
Again, leadership is about clarity. A leader sets clear goals and expectations, outlining how to reach those goals. They’re enthusiastic about progress and cheer their team on. They don’t give up when things get tough – they pivot and re-strategize!
5. A personal sense of responsibility and accountability
Remember that kid who never said they were sorry, even when the facts were indisputable? That’s not a sign of a good leader. True leaders can use their authority well without overwhelming or discouraging their team members.
They take personal responsibility for their actions and are willing to apologize, supporting the team and turning differences (and even weaknesses) into strengths.
Other qualities of leaders:
- Leaders constantly look for ways to improve their company/department, setting clear goals for future growth without disrupting stability.
- Leaders can handle the risk of innovation, fostering creativity in their teams. They’re flexible and willing to explore ideas.
- Team builders. A true leader can take a group of people and turn them into a team, all working together toward a common goal.
- Problem solvers. Innovative leaders can handle complex problems. They aren’t discouraged by the shifting sands of business, they’re energized by them.
- Agile learners. Great leaders never stop learning. Instead, they have a giant appetite for knowledge and opportunities fueled by their own curiosity.
- Leaders can create deep professional relationships with others inside and outside the organization. They’re fantastic networkers and good people to work with.
No one is born with these traits – they must be fostered and developed over time. It takes a great deal of practice and experience to develop these qualities.
The Sticky Truth About Leadership Qualities
Leadership qualities must be learned – but it’s possible that not everyone is capable of learning them. Some of these traits are quite difficult to develop for some people – so what’s the deal? Why are some people better at learning them than others?
Some of the answers could lie in the qualities themselves. Take the quality of being willing to learn, for example. You can’t exactly teach people to be willing to learn since those who are unwilling to learn won’t allow you to teach them!
Self-management is another soft skill that’s difficult to teach. You either are a self-starter, or you aren’t. It’s definitely possible to develop these skills in others, but many of these soft skills almost seem to be learned through osmosis rather than actively taught. Some of the best leaders today remember being lectured at by their parents to clean their rooms, for example. Being a self-starter is clearly something that was developed over time.
Tips on How to Develop Leadership Skills
Want to be a better leader? Here are some practical tips to help you along the way.
1. Surround yourself with leaders
We touched on learning by osmosis – and surrounding yourself with great leaders is definitely one of the ways you can enhance your own leadership qualities. A simple truth of the human experience is that we tend to emulate what we see in our own friends, coworkers, and families. So actively look for the leaders in your life and connect with them. Get to know them. Ask them questions and see whether they will introduce you to other leaders.
2. Get comfortable with failure
Great leaders don’t let the fear of failure hold them back. Conquer this fear by making it your goal to fail at some things you do. Is your goal to find an agent for your book? Then make it your goal to receive 300 rejection letters. By tricking your brain into thinking failure is the goal, you’ll take the sting out of rejection and actually see it through to the end.
3. Don’t be tight-fisted about your company
Some leaders fall into the trap that they have to do everything within the organization for it to succeed, but that’s a terrible waste of your resources. Great leaders have the skills to hold any role in the organization, but they don’t spread themselves too thin. Instead, they can spot leadership qualities and strengths in those around them and use them to further the company. (Example: they don’t set out to build their own website or set up marketing tactics – they get experts to do that!)
For More Motivation, Download Our App
Even if you don’t think you have any leaders in your network, there have been plenty of great leaders throughout history that have provided insight into a leadership mindset. At Matcha Design, we’ve created an app called the Owlsome Daily Quote, which provides timely leadership advice from successful leaders of the past and present.
Feel free to download Owlsome Daily Quote today!
And for more great articles on leadership, check out our blog.