Key Characteristics of Great Leaders – Part II | Chris Banescu | Jun. 21, 2008

In this article I’m continuing with my review of the key characteristics of great leaders. Here are some additional qualities that embody superior leadership.

Great leaders surround themselves with greatness. They actively seek out the best possible people and hire them to fill all key positions within their organizations. Great leaders know that surrounding themselves with excellence is a direct reflection on their own character, abilities, and effectiveness as leaders. They understand that their own success and the success of their organizations depend mostly on hiring and promoting the best qualified, ethical, skilled, responsible, mature, and productive people and giving them the proper resources, authority, and freedom to do what’s needed for the long-term benefit of their companies. Great leaders do not feel threatened by anyone lower in the chain of command who’s smarter, better educated, more productive, or more popular than they are. They respect the greatness and unique abilities of the individuals they lead and encourage them to continually flourish and grow.

Great leaders are optimists and realists. They are individuals who always look at life with a great deal of hope and optimism, and yet remain staunch realists who face life’s challenges head on and don’t shy away from adversity and hardships. Great leaders are great dreamers and visionaries, but with their feet firmly planted on the ground. They embrace truth and live in reality. They deal with things as they really are, not as they would like them to be. Great leaders have an infectious optimism that inspires and reassures their followers. They are not easily fooled by phony individuals or taken in by bogus schemes and unrealistic dreams. When meeting them one is struck about how clearly they see reality, yet how focused and optimistic they can remain in the face of adversity, uncertainty, and turmoil.

Great leaders earn the respect of their followers, they don’t demand it. A cornerstone of true leadership is evidenced by the voluntary submission of followers to the leader’s authority. Most great leaders have reached positions of prominence by virtue of their actual experience, knowledge, and leadership abilities, not due to schmoozing, luck, cronyism, longevity, abusing or manipulating others, or by virtue of avoiding controversy or failing to “rock the boat.”

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