Beyond these basic traits, leaders of today must also possess traits that will help them motivate others and lead them in new directions. Leaders of the future must be able to envision the future and convince others that their vision is worth following. To do this, they must have the following personality traits:
- High energy. Long hours and some travel are usually a prerequisite for leadership positions, especially as your company grows. Remaining alert and staying focused are two of the greatest obstacles you will have to face as a leader.
- Intuitiveness. Rapid changes in the world today combined with information overload result in an inability to “know” everything. In other words, reasoning and logic will not get you through all situations. In fact, more and more leaders are learning the value of using their intuition and trusting their “gut” when making decisions.
- Maturity. To be a good leader, personal power and recognition must be secondary to the development of your employees. In other words, maturity is based on recognizing that more can be accomplished by empowering others than can be by ruling others.
- Team orientation. Business leaders today put a strong emphasis on teamwork. Instead of promoting an adult/child relationship with their employees, leaders create an adult/adult relationship that fosters team cohesiveness.
- Empathy. Being able to “put yourself in the other person's shoes” is a key trait of leaders today. Without empathy, you can't build trust. And without trust, you will never be able to get the best effort from your employees.
- Charisma. People usually perceive leaders as larger than life. Charisma plays a large part in this perception. Leaders who have charisma are able to arouse strong emotions in their employees by defining a vision that unites and captivates them. Using this vision, leaders motivate employees to reach toward a future goal by tying the goal to substantial personal rewards and values.
Overall, leaders are larger than life in many ways. Personal traits play a major role in determining who will and who will not be comfortable leading others. However, it's important to remember that people are forever learning and changing.
Leaders are rarely (if ever) born. Circumstances and persistence are major components in the developmental process of any leader. So if your goal is to become a leader, work on developing those areas of your personality that you feel are not “up to par.” For instance, if you have all of the basic traits but do not consider yourself very much of a “people” person, try taking classes or reading books on empathy. On the other end, if relating to others has always come naturally to you, but you have trouble making logical decisions, try learning about tough-mindedness and how to develop more psychological resistance. Just remember, anyone can do anything they set their mind to… the key is more the desire to grow and develop these essential traits and take the steps necessary to become a great leader.