February 11 , 2019 /

THE SPIRIT OF LEADERSHIP: TEN CHARACTERISTICS

The “spirit” of outstanding leaders can be seen, heard and felt in at least the following ten ways.  These behaviors of excellent  leadership are confirmed through experienced, successful leaders who have earned the respect of their colleagues and their peers.  You may know some people who exhibit these qualities on a regular, sustained basis.
1 – Enthusiastic and energetic – There are many different ways of expressing one’s spirit of enthusiasm, whether overtly or more quietly, but we most often characterize this contagious quality as passion, thus strong feelings that are shared.
2.  Positive and optimistic – While best balanced with a heavy dose of realism, the expression of hope in the present and for the future is a quality of spirit that any good leader is well-advised to have in his or her repertoire of attitudes.
3.  Caring and compassionate – A spirit of genuine concern for others and their well-being goes a long way toward helping a community to develop an ethos of mutual support and collegiality.
4.  Inquiring and curious – The leader who asks thoughtful questions and demonstrates the spirit of an inquiring mind helps to further the conversations to a deeper level of understanding.
5.  Conscientious and intentional – Designing change requires a spirit that is transparent so that others may see how seriousness of purpose pervades the leader.
6.  Pleasant, friendly and joyful  – As one friend and colleague puts it, “be kind, tell the truth and say thank you.”   Good manners, social grace and comfort in a crowd contribute significantly to the perception of one who is “at home” easily and genuinely.
7.  Confident and courageous – Unafraid to make hard decisions, even unpopular at times, the leader is able to take a stand, express convictions and move forward, even in the face of opposition.  It helps to take others along on this often perilous journey.
8.   Humble and modest – Without any need to be boastful, arrogant or prideful, the leader allows his or her deeds to speak for themselves.  Such a spirit speaks volumes without having to say a word.
9.  Creative and open – The leader exhibits a mind that seeks and welcomes new ideas.  This is the mind that works like the proverbial parachute, best when open.   However it is not change for the sake of something new.
10.  Fair and firm –  These qualities speak of a balanced response, an attitude that knows how to assess and when to draw the line.   This works with both individuals and groups and the leader’s spirit sets the stage, the tone and the process.
Many of these qualities of leadership overlap and are part of a larger dimension of one’s personality, having to do with attitudes and behaviors, as defined earlier.  It’s E.Q. trumping I.Q. one more time. The  point of all of this is that being aware of how these work in a particular environment can make a big difference in the outcomes. When a leader has much to accomplish, these qualities, along with other important skills and experience, make it easier to get a lot done without caring who gets the credit.  These are also characteristics for good mental and physical well-being.

Comments (2)

  1. Fantastic list here, Gary! So much of what I love about the best leaders I’ve ever worked for and with are reflected here. Two I would add are collaborative and empowering. I have stories to share about the people I know who did this best but I’ll bet you have more than a few of your own.

    Alli

    1. Thanks. Going through emails and comments I sent mine to your post before I saw yours here. Crossed in the ether somewhere. Made me think I should look at all of them and not respond to them one at a time from the bottom up. What kind of a mind is that? We used to have an exercise for leaders known as “The In-Box” and it was both revealing and fun. Here it is:
      https://www.123test.com/mailbox-exercise/ and you’ve probably seen it and used it yourself. Regardless, thanks for your additions of collaboration and empowerment. I agree wholeheartedly that those are critical pieces in the repertoire of any good leader.

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