Leadership is a choice not a position. Please don’t confuse the two, as many of us so easily can. A title next to his/her name doesn’t qualify him/her as a leader. In researching Leadership I found that there are four major characteristics that people look for in Leaders. They came to me in a content-rich book The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. The two authors conducted a survey over six continents: North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. A majority of the data came from the United States. Kouzes and Posner asked people,
“What values do you look for and admire in your leader?” The top four in correct sequence were Honesty, Forward Looking, Competence, and Inspiration.
Honesty, wow! How many of the leaders in country are honest? It almost seems like an oxymoron linking honest and politician in the same sentence. This should be clear to our leaders that people want them to be straightforward. Honesty can also be tied in with Integrity, Character, and most importantly, a set of values on how one decides to live his/her life. Honesty in our leaders is crucial because we are a society that teaches “perfection”. It is great to strive for perfection and being the best in one’s chosen field. But it is another aspect to not admit our faults or accept responsibility for our actions. Our greatest growth spurts come from mistakes. These can be seen as “growing pains”. Often it is a tough situation but we come out stronger. Two of our most admired leaders are Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., people who contained a set of values and were honest.
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson
Being honest as a leader will earn you the respect of your team, but having the vision is what will keep you there.
The second quality that Kouzes and Posner found was Forward Looking. You don’t have to have the ability to see the future or some grand vision, but you do have to select the destination at which your team should arrive and be responsible that the focus and discipline are directed toward that path.
Earl Nightingale said it best, “A goal is a general progression towards a worthy ideal.”
Having the ability to see what you want to accomplish in six months to a year is crucial to leading a group of individuals. Society has conditioned us to see as far in advance as our weekend plans. Leaders have the ability to keep the team on track and aiming for a target.
The third quality…