(Actually, this list is one better than a “top 10” list, because it goes up to 11.)
Last week, readers, I challenged you to tell me what qualities you consider most important when identifying new leaders. I guess this question struck a chord, judging by the number of passionate responses I received in general, and the number of responses that referenced how a leader emerges during times of uncertainty in particular.
No doubt several of you were drawing on your own experiences from these past several months, as you witnessed those around you being forced to make tough management decisions, seeing who emerged as true leaders – keeping employees motivated, adapting to stay ahead in a difficult economy, thinking outside the box to keep business going – while perhaps witnessing others “falter and fail,” as one commenter put it.
While sorting through the over-200 comments, there were several words that emerged over and over again to describe leaders. Here, I give you the most frequently mentioned leadership characteristics – and a few of the reasons given for singling these traits out.
Readers’ Choice: Top 10 11 Leadership Characteristics
- Vision “A leader is someone that has vision. Someone that sees what is possible, not what is expected. Someone that sees the good in staff and promotes it, not the faults and prays on them. Someone who sees leadership as an honor…not just a responsibility.” – Michael Asbill
- Integrity “Integrity is the most important attribute. Leaders must have vision, passion, commitment, charisma, great communications skills, and on through the list. But without being true to their principles (even when they think nobody is watching) they send the wrong message and lose their follower’s trust.” – Ron Boatright
- Communication “I look for a manager with outcome-focused communication skills that builds trust amongst their staff, shares their knowledge and seeks feedback from associates. This allows a good manager to connect with their staff and helps create an understanding, support and acceptance critical to an organization’s success.” – Shelley Drosts
- Creative – “In this day and age, creativity and ingenuity are certainly stressed, as uncertain economic times and other variables increase the need for thinking outside the box and the ability to shake off old paradigms or ways of thinking in order to innovate, improve, and lead.”- Daniel Hewitt
- Inspire – “Maya Angelou once said, ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.’ I think this is a great template for a leader…I think a leader is one who nurtures and encourages and inspires an employee to not only do what he/she is supposed to do but to feel better about themselves as a person and feel better about themselves as an employee.” – Robert
- Motivate “Leadership is the ability to steer the ship during good and bad times. To make unpopular decisions that are right for the business in good and bad economies. To keep people to motivated to want more when business is good or bad.” – Susan
- Courage “We expect the most from our employees at all levels. We expect them to have the courage to take risks, be bold on behalf of our clients, own their actions and look fearlessly to the future and the possibilities it holds.” – Susan Leverentz
- Confidence “We continue to find that the most effective leaders are the ones who realize and accept that they cannot have all the answers, cannot do all the work, and will rise with the overall success of their teams. The challenge is often to find leaders with less management experience who have attained this level of self-confidence.” – RDL
- Integrity “A great leader is someone whom others seek to follow. What does that look like? The leader will ooze uncompromising integrity. Those around him are proud to be associated with him.” – Jill Smedley
- Passionate “The best leaders are those who are passionate about their work, what they represent and their ability to spread that passion by leading and motivating others in the organization to increase productivity.” – Lori
- Adaptable “Able leaders respond rather than react to uncertain times. Additionally, they are not easily shaken by setbacks. They find unique solution to unfamiliar problems and they look at challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow.” – Dominic Moore
Any further thoughts? You can read all comments from the previous post here…and stay tuned for my follow-up post on ways to retain your best leaders, and why now is the most critical time to do so.