If you were to build a house, you would begin with a blueprint. This blueprint proves useful because it contains more than directions on how to build a house. It also describes the finished house.
So, what does this have to do with leadership?
Recently a colleague of mine asked an audience of leaders to tell him the characteristics of an ideal leader.
Their answers were (in the order collected):
A good listener, enthusiasm, passion, shows appreciation, a visionary, role model, trusting, integrity, organized, knowledgeable, credibility, persuasive, charisma, team building, clarity of purpose, problem solver, attitude of service, leads by example, patience, willing to act without complete knowledge, understands followers, consistent, empowers other people, and adapts to change.
I'll add that this is essentially the same list that I received from other audiences when I asked this question. From this comes some useful insight.
Actually, applying these characteristics requires more strength than not.
And that's interesting because many popular representations of leadership emphasize at least one of these "hard" characteristics. In fact, these characteristics are the refuge of those who lack the strength (or the skills) to apply the human side of leadership.
Would they list characteristics from the "soft" list or from the "hard" list? Could you become more effective by improving upon any of the "soft" characteristics? And how about the other leaders in your organization? Do they truly maximize human potential?
People want leaders who treat them with genuine compassion, courtesy, and respect. They want leaders who help them become more successful. They want leaders who inspire them with a vision for a better world and show them how to go there.
See also my articles on A Manager's "Soft Stuff" Is Their "Hard Stuff." and under the tab Leadership Qualities on the side bar
Thank you for reading,
Richard P. Fontanie
(From a soon to be released e-book – How To Become An Influential Leader)