Leader leads the packA few months back in a leadership training course all the participants were asked a question – “What makes a good leader?” The 12 of us had various views and there were many suggestions. Some of those suggestions were obvious and basic factors required to qualify as a leader like education, intelligence, communication skills and desire to be a leader. But when we were asked to list the top 5 qualities that distinguish a great leader from the crowd, we had to think harder. After a brainstorming session, we came up with a list of top five qualities which we all agreed to be the most important requirements for a good and successful leader.

( The below list does not assume priority in the order of occurrence.)

1. Personality

When we look at great leaders this world has had in real life, they all have had an exceptional personality associated with them. The moment we look at them, we tend to get an urge to follow what they say and do what they ask us to do. Consider leaders like Barrack Obama, Sir Richard Branson, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. All of the great leaders have a charisma associated with them that makes them stand tall than any other fellow being. Their personality helps connect followers on a emotional basis before they even know what they are capable of.  Something similar to Love at First Sight.

2. Vision

The next important aspect we discussed was being a visionary. If only the leader can see the future and guide the followers in the right direction he would still be considered a leader. This is a very important characteristic of any successful leader. If the leader cannot see where he is going, it is impossible to convince his followers that he knows the path. The vision of a good leader makes the team achieve what he has foreseen. A person with an excellent personality but with no vision will end up being a follower in the long term.

3. Listener/Observer

A real leader needs to be sharp. He/she should have toned all his/her senses to perfection that he/she should be able to sense even the slightest of changes in situation. One who is naturally sensitive to issues will definitely be a good listener and observer. Only if the leader listens to the needs of the followers and observes and understands them, he can make wise decisions on whom to trust and whom not to trust. Delegation is a another very important aspect of a successful leader. One cannot take up all things on his shoulder and be successful. If only a leader is sharp enough to delicate efficiently, he/she will have any chance to succeed.

4. Self-belief and Motivation

Listening  is an important factor to be successful and so is self-belief. If a leader doesn’t believe in himself / herself then it is impossible to instill confidence on his/her fellow mates. So believing in himself / herself is the first step to becoming a successful leader. Motivation on the other hand will come quite naturally once there is self-belief. Motivation is also dependent on how good a listener and observer a leader is. Some people need more motivation than others and it is the duty of the leader to understand this just by observation and take relevant measures.

5. Team Player

The fifth most important attribute we listed was being a team player. Team player means working within the team to achieve a common goal that would satisfy the whole team. This also means giving up personal priorities and preferences for a bigger and a unified goal. Only when the leader works within the team, the followers will agree to follow his orders and would work as a team. The other benefit of the leader (with all the above mentioned qualities) being a team player is that the followers would want to be associated with such a person. They would give more than what is required just to remain in the team and to be associated with the leader.

These are not the only qualities a successful leader would need. Instead, these are the 5 most important ones that we  felt a successful leader should have. Some successful leaders may not have all the qualities but might be intelligent enough to use the qualities they have to successfully conceal their negatives.

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