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Leadership Traits

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one. ~ Marcus Aurelius

Organizations consist of three components:

    ~ Structure gives the organization form and dictates the way it interacts.
    ~ Followers respond to the structure and the leaders.
    ~ Leaders determine the ultimate effectiveness of the organization.

Character and skills determine the way problems are solved and tasks are accomplished.

What kind of a leader are you going to be —
the kind who thinks he is the best?
Or will you be one of the very few greats
Who attributes success to the rest.

Perspectives of Character and Traits

To be an effective leader, your followers must trust you and be sold on your vision. In any organization, a leader’s actions set the pace. This behavior wins trust, loyalty, and ensures the organization’s continued vitality. One of the ways to build trust is to display a good sense of character composed of beliefs, values, skills, and traits (U.S. Army Handbook, 1973):

Beliefs are what we hold dear. They are rooted deeply within us. They could be assumptions or convictions that you hold true regarding people, concepts, or things. They could be the beliefs about life, death, religion, what is good, what is bad, what is human nature, etc.

Values are attitudes about the worth of people, concepts, or things (such as a good car, home, friendship, personal comfort, or relatives). Values are important as they influence a person’s behavior to weigh the importance of alternatives. You might value friends more than privacy. Others might value the opposite.

Skills are the knowledge and abilities gained throughout life. Ability to learn new skills varies. Some skills come almost naturally. Others come only by devotion to study and practice.

Traits are distinguishing qualities or characteristics of a person, while character is the sum total of these traits. There are hundreds of personality traits. A few are crucial for a leader.
The more of these you display as a leader, the more your followers will trust and believe in you.

Courage — not complacency — is our need today.
Leadership not salesmanship.
~ John F. Kennedy

Traits of a Good Leader

    ~ Honesty. Display Sincerity, Integrity, and Candor in all actions. Inspire Trust.
    ~ Competence. Base Actions on Reason and Moral Principles – Not Emotional Desires.
    ~ Forward-looking. Set goals and have a vision of the future.
    Envision what is wanted and how to get it. Pick priorities from basic values.
    ~ Inspiring. Display confidence. Take charge when necessary.
    Show endurance in mental, physical, and spiritual stamina.
    ~ Intelligent. Read, study, and seek challenging assignments.
    ~ Fair-minded. Show fair treatment to all. Display empathy.
    Be sensitive to the feelings, values, interests, and well-being of others.
    ~ Broad-minded. Seek out diversity.
    ~ Courageous. Display a confident calmness under stress.
    Have the perseverance to accomplish a goal, regardless of obstacles.
    ~ Straightforward. Use sound judgment. Make good decisions at the right time.
    ~ Imaginative. Make timely and appropriate changes in thinking, plans, and methods.
    Be innovative! Show creativity by thinking of new and better goals, ideas, and solutions.

Retreat Hell! We’ve just got here!
~ U.S. Marine Corps, World War I
(Belleau Wood, June 1918)

14 Leadership Traits (U.S. Marine Corps)

    ~ Integrity
    ~ Initiative
    ~ Courage
    ~ Enthusiasm
    ~ Decisiveness
    ~ Dependability
    ~ Judgment
    ~ Justice
    ~ Endurance
    ~ Unselfishness
    ~ Loyalty
    ~ Bearing
    ~ Knowledge

11 Leadership Principles (U.S. Army):

    ~ Be Tactically and Technically Proficient.
    ~ Know yourself and seek self-improvement.
    ~ Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare.
    ~ Keep your soldiers informed.
    ~ Set the example.
    ~ Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished.
    ~ Train your soldiers as a team.
    ~ Make sound and timely decisions.
    ~ Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates.
    ~ Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities.
    ~ Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.

You will never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole!
Follow me! ~ Captain Henry P. “Jim” Crowe, USMC (Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943)

Character develops over time. Character does not change quickly. Observable behavior is an indication of character. This behavior can be strong or weak, good or bad. A person with strong character shows drive, energy, determination, self-discipline, willpower, and nerve, sees what is wanted and goes after it and attracts followers. Weak character shows none of these traits, does not know what is wanted, is disorganized, vacillates, inconsistent, and attracts no followers.

A strong leader can be good or bad. A gang leader is an example of a strong person with a bad character. An outstanding community leader is one with both strong and good characteristics. An organization needs leaders with both strong and good characteristics, who show that they can be trusted, and will guide others to the future.

23 Traits of Character (U.S. Army)
~ Bearing
~ Confidence
~ Courage
~ Integrity
~ Decisiveness
~ Justice
~ Endurance
~ Tact
~ Initiative
~ Coolness
~ Maturity
~ Improvement
~ Will
~ Assertiveness
~ Candor
~ Sense of Humor
~ Competence
~ Commitment
~ Creativity
~ Self-Discipline
~ Humility
~ Flexibility
~ Empathy
~ Compassion

Attributes establish leadership. Every leader needs at least three (U.S. Army Handbook):

Standard Bearers establish the ethical framework within organizations. This demands a commitment to live and defend the organizational climate and culture wanted. What is set as an example will soon become the rule. Unlike knowledge, ethical behavior is learned more by observing than by listening. In fast moving situations, examples become certainty. Being a standard bearer creates trust and openness in others, who in turn, fulfill the leader’s visions.

Developers help others learn through teaching, training, and coaching. This creates an exciting place to work and learn. Never miss an opportunity to teach or learn something new. Coaching suggests someone who cares enough to get involved by encouraging and developing others who are less experienced. Those who work for developers know that they can take risks, learn by making mistakes, and win in the end.

Integrators orchestrate the many activities that take place throughout an organization by providing a view of the future and the ability to obtain it. Success can only be achieved when there is a unity of effort. Integrators have a sixth sense about where problems will occur and make their presence felt during critical times. Others do their best when they are left to work within a vision-based framework.

Attributes of Leadership

A leader who can be trusted will be respected by others.


    ~ BE professional. Be Loyal, Perform Selfless Service, Take Personal Responsibility.
    ~ BE an example – of Honesty, Competence, Candor, Commitment, Integrity, Courage, Straightforwardness, Imagination.

    ~ KNOW the Four Factors of Leadership: Situation, Follower, Communication, Leader.
    ~ KNOW yourself. Strengths and Weakness of your Character, Knowledge, and Skills.
    ~ KNOW human nature. Human Needs, Emotions, and how people respond to Stress.
    ~ KNOW your job. Be Proficient and be Able to Train Others in their Tasks.
    ~ KNOW your organization, the Culture, Unofficial Leaders, and Where to go for Help.

    ~ DO Provide direction. Goal Setting, Problem Solving, Decision Making, Planning.
    ~ DO Implement. Communicating, Coordinating, Supervising, Evaluating.
    ~ DO Motivate. Develop Morale and Esprit de Corp. Train, Coach, Counsel.

21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader:

    ~ Character. Be a Piece of the Rock
    ~ Charisma. The First Impression Can Seal the Deal
    ~ Commitment. It Separates Doers from Dreamers
    ~ Communication. Without It You Travel Alone
    ~ Competence. If You Build It, They Will Come
    ~ Courage. One Person with Courage Is a Majority
    ~ Discernment. Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries
    ~ Focus. The Sharper It Is, the Sharper You are
    ~ Generosity. Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another
    ~ Initiative. You Won’t Leave Home Without It
    ~ Listening. To Connect with Their Hearts use Your Ears
    ~ Passion. Take This Life and Love It
    ~ Positive Attitude. If You Believe You Can, You Can
    ~ Problem Solving. You Can’t Let Your Problems Be a Problem
    ~ Relationships. If You Get Along, They’ll Go Along
    ~ Responsibility. If You Won’t Carry the Ball, You Can’t Lead the Team
    ~ Security. Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity
    ~ Self-Discipline. The First Person You Lead Is Yourself
    ~ Servanthood. To Get Ahead, Put Others First
    ~ Teachability. To Keep Leading, Keep Learning
    ~ Vision. You Can Seize Only What You Can See

15 Characteristics of the Ultimate Leader:

    ~ Accountable. Takes Full Responsibility for Results – and the Results of the team.
    ~ Decisive. Makes Good Decisions Quickly.
    ~ Courageous. Willing to Act – In Spite of any Fear.
    ~ Assertive. Speaks with Authority – without being aggressive.
    ~ Calm. Is Centered, Grounded, and Unemotional – regardless of the situation.
    ~ Optimistic. Believes All Will Always Work Out for the Best.
    ~ Confident. Trusts Self. Trusts the Team.
    ~ Compassionate. Is Understanding – and Truly Cares for those on the Team.
    ~ Creative. Devises excellent Plans and Strategies – and is a great Problem Solver.
    ~ Flexible. Adapts to change Quickly – and helps the Team.
    ~ Has Integrity. Is Totally Reliable. Does What s/he Says.
    ~ Passionate. Outrageously Enthusiastic – and Inspires the Team.
    ~ Persistent. Will Never Quit – and won’t let the Team.
    ~ Takes Action. Acts Immediately – when the way is clear.
    ~ Is Pro-Active. Sees and Takes Action on Problems and Opportunities – before they occur.

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

The Ultimate Leader Asks:

    1. What’s my objective?
    2. What’s my plan?
    3. What resources do I have, what resources do I need?
    4. What challenges or obstacles might come up?
    5. What’s my giving and receiving feedback system?
    6. Am I communicating clearly?
    7. What’s my next step?
    8. What adjustments can I make?
    9. How do I celebrate?
    10. What’s my new objective?

    A. What worked?
    B. What didn’t?
    C. What could be done differently?

1 Comment »

  1. The nature of communication in the group also plays a significant part in determining what kind of person will be an effective leader. An individual will usually be regarded as a group leader when he has a central position in the communication network (Goldberg, 1955). In less highly structured groups, persons who initiate the most communication are likely to emerge as leaders
    Murad Ali Nazir recently posted..Personal Qualities Of a LeaderMy Profile

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